Kenya Tourism Officials Hit Back at Travel Warnings

Tourism officials from Kenya criticized the travel warnings the UK, U.S. and other governments released to avoid traveling to the African country’s coast. The Kenyan officials described the evacuation of tourists from Britain as economic sabotage.

On May 14, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the UK advised that all but essential travel should stop for Mombasa a port city in Kenya and its surrounding area due to threats in security.

Australia, Canada, France, Sweden and the U.S. have each issued advisories that are similar. TUI AG, which is the owner of the biggest tour operator in Europe, said on Friday it was repatriating more than 400 of its customers to the UK from Kenya. It had also canceled all its flights to the port city of Mombasa until October 31.

Adam Jilo the Kenya Tour Operators Association Chairman said the timing of the warnings is horrible since it follows the visit last week to Kenya of Li Keqiang the Premier of China and the country was expecting more visitors arriving from China. It was described by Jilo as economic sabotage.

Fewer tourists have visited Kenya following a series of attacks in the country including Islamist militants assaulting a mall in Nairobi last September that killed 67 people.

One explosion in an outdoor market in Nairobi on Friday left several injuries according to emergency staff dispatched to the site of the explosion.

Arrivals of tourists in Kenya dropped last year to just 1.4 million from over 1.7 million during 2012.

Tourism is the second largest source of foreign exchange in the country generating over $1.1 billion during 2013.

The foreign office for Britain said any citizens from the UK visiting the city of Mombasa, a beach destination that is very popular, should leave that area unless they hold an essential reason for remaining.

The UK is a large source market for Kenya tourists, according to the Tourism Federation in Kenya, which urged the government of Britain to withdrawn its statement.

The tourism federation said it was clear there was no consideration into how the advisory would impact upon employment and investment from the tourist sector.

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