IMPACT OF THE OUTBREAK OF EBOLA VIRUS IN WEST AFRICA ON PERFOMANCE OF TOURISM INDUSTRY IN KENYA (2014-2016)

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Ebola is a deadly disease that has caused a lot of anxiety not only in the affected countries in West Africa but the world at large. It‟s on this basis that the researcher sought to examine the effects of the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa on the tourism sector in Kenya. The researcher examined this effect through the three specific objectives; to examine the economic implications of Ebola outbreak on Tourism industry in Kenya, to examine the impact of Ebola reporting by the mass media in shaping opinions on Kenya‟s preparedness, to assess the state of preparedness of the Kenya Government in case of an outbreak of an epidemic of global nature. This was done with the thinking that the research is of much significance to the Kenyan government and especially relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Tourism. The study used the agenda setting theory.  This  study was  a qualitative research  which  employed  a survey research design. Out of the target population of employees employed within the tourism sector which stands at 785,382, the researcher sampled 400 respondents. The target population was divided into employees working in the following sectors within the tourism industry; tour operators, hotel sector, airlines and other related businesses like the curio shops. The researcher collected data from both primary and secondary sources. The primary data was collected directly from the respondents which was first-hand information while the secondary data came from existing literature which was done by other scholars before. The data collection tools that were used were basically questionnaires and interviews. The researcher therefore checked on the validity of the various data collection tools before analyzing the collected data through SPSS in order to draw meaningful conclusions. The analyzed data was presented in terms of tables and graphs. The results were used to ascertain the impact of the outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa on the tourism sector in Kenya. The study found that the respondents agreed that media reports on Ebola outbreak scared potential foreign tourists to Kenya. The study further found that respondents agreed that tourism is a major contributor to Kenya‟s GDP. The study concludes that there are economic implications of Ebola outbreak on Tourism Industry. Further it states that the country also experienced loss in hundreds of thousands of jobs in the sector. The Ebola crisis weakened the capacity to optimally generate revenues and put pressure on public expenditures. The study also concludes the nature of coverage and broadcast of the whole epidemic by media threw unnecessary and fear to many people due to its unique mode of killing, spread and its current status of no vaccine or drugs. Based on the research findings the study recommends preparedness should be strengthened  by developing, evaluating and  revising response plans based on comprehensive risk analysis taking into account all prevalent hazards. The plans should involve identifying rapid response teams at local and national levels including sources of surge support; pre-positioning medical supplies and other logistics; designating isolation units and safe areas;  and  organizing  mass  casualty  management  services  and  anthropologists  should  be involved in current efforts to develop long-term solutions, such as the development of vaccines or improvement of the local health infrastructure as a way of preventing further spread of the virus   and   future  outbreaks,   hence   preventing   its   effect   on   Kenya‟s   tourism   industry.

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