Hundreds of tourists left their hotels in Mombasa and Diani under armed police escort on Friday, to travel back to their countries, heeding travel warnings issued by the United States, France and Australia, against travelling to the Kenyan Coast.
Four buses and a van carrying 300 tourists who had cut short their holiday following the warnings, were escorted by police officers to the Moi International Airport where the tourists would catch flights back to their countries.
“Yesterday night 282 tourists flew out and today 300 more are going away,” Sam Ikwaye, of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers told Baraka FM.
“The travel arrangements have been made by Thomson and First Choice tour agencies, who are based in Britain,” he added.
On Thursday Kenya scolded the US, France and Australia for issuing the warnings it described as ‘unfriendly’ and intended to increase panic.
The warnings and departures by tourists from hotels along the popular coast are a further blow to the country’s tourism, the second biggest income earner after agriculture, and which president Uhuru Kenyatta said was “on its knees’ following attacks blamed on the al-Qaeda linked militants, al shabaab.
“Most affected hotels are within Mombasa and South Coast, and right now, I can say with certainty that the (tourism) industry is done,” Ikwaye said.
“Let them (tourists) go. Sometimes such things need to happen so that a government can reorganize itself and take issues of tourism seriously.”
At the airport tourists filed into the departure lounge dragging along their luggage as they queued for security scrutiny.
“It is sad that I have to cut short my stay. It is all in the interest of cooperating with our government because if we don’t, there will be consequences,” Linda Simons, a British nurse, told Baraka FM at the airport.
She said she had spent only two of her 18-day holiday, but had to cut it short.