More than 400 British tourists will leave Mombasa today and tomorrow (Friday) to head back to their country after cutting short their holiday, following travel warnings issued on Wednesday by the US and Britain to their citizens visiting Kenya, the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC), said on Thursday.
Two planes sent from London will leave Mombasa International Airport at six this evening and 11 am tomorrow respectively carrying the tourists, who the travel advisories warned, that Mombasa and its environs were at risk of terrorist attacks.
“We have received information about the over 400 British tourists in Kenya who have been recalled by their government. They have cut short their stay and are leaving the country today (Thursday) and tomorrow,” Sam Ikwaye of KAHC told Baraka FM.
But government, angry at the travel warnings, described them as unfriendly and insisted that the country was safe.
Karanja Kibicho, the principal secretary at the foreign affairs department, said Kenya was assuring its visitors of “utmost security and safety”, and lamented the advisories by countries also involved in its fight against the militants.
“The advisories therefore are obviously unfriendly acts coming from our partners who have equally borne the brunt of global terrorism and no doubt understand the repercussions of terror menace,” Kibicho said.
“The challenges arising from acts of terrorism require concerted efforts to fight it and not behaving in a manner that accelerates it by causing fear and panic.”
Industry players asked the US and UK to share any information they had gathered with Kenyan authorities in the spirit of continued partnership with Kenya to fight terrorism.
“They must be knowing something we don’t know, and in the interest of friendship, they should share such information with Kenya instead of hitting more nails on the coffin which the tourism sector is already in,” Millicent Odhiambo of the umbrella body, Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association, said.
She said the warnings had aggravated an already bad situation the tourism was in, and it would take a long time to recover.
“We have no more hope for this year and the near future. This industry takes between two and three years to recover fully when such things occur because you have to struggle to convince people and change perceptions.”
At a joint press conference by County tourism secretaries from Coast region, Mombasa County secretary Job Tumbo asked the two countries to rescind the advisories as Kenya was safe, saying the warnings were targeted to hurt the country which depends largely on tourism.
“Terrorism is a global problem and should not be treated as a monster only when it concerns Kenya,” Tumbo told journalists at a press conference in Mombasa.