Establishment of a Tourism Resilience Centre in Kenyatta University

Tourism is a major industry globally and a major sector in many economies. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The UNWTO estimates that worldwide international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) increased by 6% to 1.4 billion in 2018. Data from Africa points to a 7% increase in 2018 (North Africa at +10% and Sub-Saharan +6%), reaching an estimated 67 million arrivals. The industry generates hundred billions of dollars annually through income, revenues, employment, investment and infrastructure development.
The Eastern Africa region does not rank favorably as a competitive destination. The regions industry has been slowed down by the various disruptions which include terrorism brought by Al Shabaab, floods and other climate change peculiarities, outbreak of epidemics, etc. To maintain competitiveness, governments and other relevant stakeholders must strive to shield the industry from these disruptions. The adoption of effective preparation and management strategies has the potential to determine the difference between tourism industry resilience and recession. Destination lacking capacities to respond to the said threats remain vulnerable and susceptible to crises.


The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management (GTRCM) is a tourism resource center dedicated to conducting “policy- relevant research and analysis on destination preparedness, management and recovery” due to disruptions and crises that affect tourism industry. It’s one of the first international organizations dedicated to providing resources and support to tourism-
dependent nations around the world.
It was launched at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Jamaica. The Centre is based at Kingston, Jamaica’s Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI). The Centre is headed by a board of Governors chaired by Dr. Taleb Rufai former UNWTO Secretary General who is the Acting Chair and Co- Chaired by Hon Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica. They have been working to establish Satellite centers around the world. The expected 4 satellite centers are to be established in the following countries, Nepal, Hong Kong, Malta, Oman, Japan, South Africa and Kenya.

Kenyatta University GTRCM Satellite Centre Kenyatta University is one of the leading universities in the region, renowned for training, research and innovation. It is against this strong background that the GTRCM satellite Centre will be established at the university in November, 2019. It will be a first-of-its-kind tourism resource center in Africa, and will serve the Eastern Africa regions; i.e. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Somali, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan and South Sudan. The region is a leading tourist destination in Sub-Sahara Africa. The potential of the tourism industry in the region can be attributed to its endowment of natural resource, which has contributed significantly to the economic growth and development. The Centre will be dedicated to policy- relevant research and analysis on regional destination preparedness, management and recovery
from disruptions or crises that impact on tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods. Specifically, it will deal with issues related to terrorism and resultant travel advisories, political crises, climate change, Ebola and related epidemic outbreaks in the region.

To become a transformative Centre, which seeks to safeguard and protect the tourism product of the countries in the Eastern Africa regions as well as to ensure health, growth and sustainability of tourism industry.

To support the countries in the Eastern Africa with destination preparedness, management, and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that negatively impact on tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods.


The GTRCMSC has the following objectives;

  1. Research and development in the four broad thematic areas anchored on resilience in tourism.
  2. Policy formulation and advocacy in regard to sustainable tourism through proactive and multiagency approach.
  3. Communication management targeting real time updates on threats and vulnerabilities likely to impact tourism and resultant action plans.
  4. Project design and management in regard to mitigation and intervention geared towards running tourism as an enterprise for national economic growth and improved livelihoods.
  5. Training and capacity building for the partners in the region to build a critical mass that understands resilience and adaptation to climate change and other disruptions affecting the tourism industry in the region.
  6. Monitoring and evaluation of all the processes with a view to addressing any gaps and emerging issues that may hamper the realization of the strategic objective of this Centre.

Thematic Areas of Focus
The Centre thematic focuses among others include;

  1. Tourism Climatic and Seismic Resilience
  2. Tourism Pandemic /Epidemic Resilience
  3. Tourism Security /Cyber Security Resilience
  4. Tourism Entrepreneurial Resilience
  5. Emerging challenges facing tourism industry

The roles of the Centre will be:

  • Creating, producing and generating toolkits.
  • Develop guidelines and policies to handle the recovery process following a disaster.
  • Assist with preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods.
  • To collate data generated from different organizations related to tourism industry.
  • To network on knowledge generation and sharing with other relevant regional and international bodies.

Challenges Addressed 

The Centre will address the following challenges facing the tourism industry:

  1. To maintain sustainability and meet the rising impact on the environment as well as an increasing demand from new markets and to stay attractive at the same time
  2. Quick reaction on unforeseeable events (volcano eruption, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, etc.) in the form of more-prepared contingency plans.
  3. The uncertainty of the climate change effect, especially at a local level
  4. Growing need for investments in qualified human resources despite high cost pressure on employers in tourism
  5. Tourism needs to adapt to the different (and fast changing) communication tools and information platforms such as GIS.
  6. Tourism suppliers – both destinations and service companies – will have to adapt their marketing strategies, tactics and initiatives to the development and diffusion of new communication and information technologies in order to follow consumer preferences
  7. The unequal distribution of knowledge and resources in tourism despite the need for information diffusion and rising awareness of general policies in order to support tourism development in less developed societies
  8.  The fast changing technique of information/distribution systems (e-marketing/e-booking)
  9. New concepts of sustainable development of tourism destinations need to be created (no overbuilding, right ratio between second homes and hotels, etc.)
  10. A constant danger of terror attacks and radicalization in changing areas and fields
  11. Collaboration and partnerships between tourism stakeholders, including hotels, tour operators and media, in the areas of promotion, marketing, destination development and management.


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