LAST WEEKEND the three defence ministers of East Africa asked the American and British governments to drop their travel advisories warning their citizens of potential terrorist attacks in the region.
The US and travel advisories discourage many visitors and seriously impact foreign exchange earnings.
Yet honestly speaking the risk is not sufficient to justify them.
The diplomats of their embassies in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are leading normal lives and visit tourist resorts with their families. If it is safe enough for diplomats, why is it not safe enough for tourists?
Letâ€™s face facts. Car accidents are by far the biggest risk of travelling in East Africa. Driving in East Africa is statistically forty times as dangerous as travelling in the USA or Europe. Foreigners are regularly killed in car crashes.
The next biggest danger is malaria.
Tourists still occasionally die of cerebral malaria, especially at the coast.
There is also the danger of armed robbery. Tourists can be mugged in downtown Nairobi or armed gunmen can intercept tourist vehicles in game parks.
Numerically far more foreigners die from road accidents, malaria or armed robbery than terrorism yet the travel advisories ignore these risks.
These travel advisories represent an hysterical over-reaction to the threat of terrorism in East Africa.
They only encourage terrorists to think that they are winning.
If the American and British governments want to gain a psychological upper hand over al-Qaeda, they should issue travel advisories only when there is an imminent and real danger of attack.
Right now, by issuing travel advisories just in case, the US and UK are hurting themselves and they are hurting us.