World
Hundreds of British tourists evacuated from Kenya
Publish Date: May 16, 2014
Hundreds of British tourists evacuated from Kenya
A tourist walks along the beach in Mombasa as a camel rider waits for customers. PHOTO/AFP
  • mail
  • img
newvision

MOMBASA - Hundreds of British tourists are being evacuated from beach resorts near Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa following new warnings of terror attacks, officials and tour operators said Friday.

Special charter flights were organised days after Britain, France, Australia and the United States issued new travel warnings for Kenya's coast following a wave of attacks and unrest linked to Islamist extremists.

British travellers have been told by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to avoid "all but essential" visits to Mombasa, impacting links to nearby white-sand beach resorts.

The Kenyan government has expressed "disappointment" and has accused countries that are telling tourists to stay away of "unfriendly acts".

Thomson and First Choice, which are owned by London-listed TUI Travel, Europe's biggest tour operator, said they had also decided to cancel all flights to the coastal city -- were four people were killed in twin bomb attacks earlier this month -- until November.

"As a result of the change in FCO advice, the decision has been taken to cancel all our outbound flights to Mombasa, Kenya up to and including 31 October," Thomson and First Choice said in a statement.

"As a precautionary measure, we have also taken the decision to repatriate all customers currently on holiday in Kenya back to the UK."

A spokeswoman told AFP that Thomson and First Choice had around 400 customers currently on holiday in the Mombasa area. "Some arrived home on a flight home this morning, some will arrive on a flight this evening, and the rest on Monday," she said.

Adam Sheikh, a tourism official in Kwale county south of Mombasa which is home to a number of resorts along Diani beach, told AFP that 250 British tourists had already left and said the area was in "shock".

"We are shocked because we don't think there is such a level of insecurity," he said.

'Jobs will be lost'

On Thursday Kenya's foreign ministry gave an angry response to the warnings.

"The advisories... 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," it said in a statement.

"Issuance of such travel advisories only plays to the whims of bad elements in society whose aim is to spread fear and panic," the statement added.

Sam Ikwaye of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers, said the evacuations were a "huge blow".

According to the most recent figures from 2011, tourism directly or indirectly accounted for 14 percent of Kenya's economic output and roughly 12 percent of the workforce.

"We are surprised because there is no serious imminent danger to warrant this action. This will be a huge blow to the tourism sector. The high season was due to begin in July and many contracts are signed around this time," he said.

Ikwaye said beach hotels in region were now facing a drop in revenue of up to 70 percent, and that he feared that "the decision by the British is likely to influence other countries to do the same".

Mohammed Hersi, the head of the Heritage Hotel group, said "many jobs will be lost".

"We are very disappointed by the blanket statement from the British government. I regret that this decision will have long-term repercussions on Kenyan tourism," he said.

Last month Kenya confirmed that the number of foreign visitors to the country -- a top safari and beach destination -- slumped by 11 percent in 2013, when the country was gripped by fears of election-related political violence.

The current year is expected to also see a massive drop, particularly in the wake of the September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi that was claimed by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels and left at least 67 dead.

AFP

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
French president warns Indonesia of
French President Francois Hollande warned Saturday that Indonesia faced diplomatic "consequences" if it pushes ahead with the planned execution of Frenchman Serge Atlaoui over drug trafficking offences....
South Africa suspends parliament to fight xenophobia
South Africa's parliament will be suspended next week to enable lawmakers to return to their constituencies to spread the anti-xenophobia message, in the wake of deadly attacks on African migrants....
Looming firing squad for foreign drug convicts
Families of foreign drug convicts set to be hauled before the firing squad in Indonesia issued desperate mercy pleas Saturday....
Togo votes for a new president
Togo votes for a new president on Saturday, with the incumbent Faure Gnassingbe seeking a third term in office to extend his family's grip on power....
Turkey hosts Gallipoli ceremonies 100 years on
Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan on Friday hosted leaders from the former Allied powers of World War I to pay tribute to the tens of thousands killed in the Battle of Gallipoli 100 years after one of the most wasteful yet emblematic campaigns of the conflict....
Major Greek bank to wipe debts of poorest clients
One of Greece's largest banks is to wipe away the debts of clients who owe up to 20,000 euros ($21,600) in a one-off gesture to ease the burden on its crisis-hit customers....
Do you support KCCA'S move to return city communter buses?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter