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Digital Skills and Tourism Workforce Recovery in the Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Era: Case of Small and Medium-Sized Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs) in Nairobi, Kenya

Shem Wambugu Maingi (Kenyatta University, Kenya)
Hildah Mumbi Wachira (Kenyatta University, Kenya)

Tourism Through Troubled Times

ISBN: 978-1-80382-312-6, eISBN: 978-1-80382-311-9

Publication date: 23 September 2022



Kenyan Small and Medium-sized Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs) have been highly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the tourism workforce had to face lockdowns and travel restrictions. In order to maintain business and operational continuity, the tourism workforce had to leverage on internet technologies and digitalisation as a means of enabling business continuity and providing value addition in their supply chains. This study sought to investigate on the extent to which digital skills aid in the tourism recovery process as well as improve the employees' well-being amid the COVID-19 pandemic among SMTEs in Nairobi City County.


The study took a qualitative approach based on constructivist grounded methodological approaches that emphasised specifically on the discovery of emerging trends and patterns in behaviour as well as development of new theory. The aim was to understand the tourism workforce recovery process using digital skills. The process involved data gathering from interview participants, qualitative emic and etic coding, analytical memo writing, theoretical sampling and reconstructing theory.


The findings of the study showed that due to losses attributed to the lockdowns and travel restrictions, prospective digital business models have been formulated for tourism stakeholders during the lockdown period. The changing technological landscape globally showed that digital skills will continue to be in great demand to meet the needs of the marketplace. Further, the use of social digital tools to build a mental health response to COVID-19 was instrumental to the recovery process. Technological resilience is a key factor that will play a role in reviving the sector.

Research Implications

A structured vision, roadmap and tourism strategy for mainstreaming digital skills and developing technological resilience within the tourism and hospitality sector is important towards coping and adaptive strategies for the SMTEs in the Kenyan context.


This study examines how digital skills are vital for tourism recovery especially for the SMTEs within the developing countries context.



Maingi, S.W. and Wachira, H.M. (2022), "Digital Skills and Tourism Workforce Recovery in the Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Era: Case of Small and Medium-Sized Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs) in Nairobi, Kenya", Korstanje, M.E., Seraphin, H. and Maingi, S.W. (Ed.) Tourism Through Troubled Times (Tourism Security-Safety and Post Conflict Destinations), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 21-38.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 Shem Wambugu Maingi and Hildah Mumbi Wachira. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited