PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday said Kenya's tourism industry should start looking inward to plug the gap created by the drop in foreign tourism arrivals due to travel advisories.
"We do not have to rely on the foreign markets, rather let us come together and promote our domestic tourist attractions." said the president at a Friday media briefing.
He said terrorism was not a peculiar phenomenon to Kenya and all Kenyans must unite and fight against the negative publicity.
Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office upgraded its travel alert warning on Wednesday against "all but essential" travel to Mombasa, citing "recent terrorist attacks and the continuing terrorist threat in the area". The US, Australia and France also issued fresh advisories.
The president's plea comes even as tourism industry players called for action on the advisories that have so far led to the evacuation of close to 500 tourists in two days.
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 until November.
A spokeswoman told AFP that Thomson and First Choice had around 400 customers currently on holiday in Mombasa.
"Some arrived home on a flight home this morning (Friday), some will arrive on a flight this evening, and the rest on Monday," she said.
Britain's Foreign Office said it was not involved in pulling tourists out of the area.
"The government has to realise that its forex incomes and tax revenues are going to take a major hit in the economy of Kenya. The silence from the President on the state of tourism is causing concern to us." said the Kenya Tourism Federation vice chairman Adam Jillo at an earlier press conference.
Jillo said the latest advisories could have a spill-over effect on businesses that benefit from the tourism industry like agriculture, food and beverages and transport.
"The industry is collapsing and by the end of business day today (yesterday) we expect that 700 guests will be evacuated in the coastal regions because their insurance will not be able to sustain them for another day." said one of the of the Kenya Association Hotel Keepers and Caterers.
The secretary general of Kenya Union of Domestic and Hotel workers Albert Njeru said there is need for the re-organization of security system in Kenya since business cannot thrive in an environment which is constantly threatened by terrorism attacks.
Kenya has been targeted by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels since it sent troops to war-torn Somalia in 2011 to fight them, and it suffered a major blow in September 2013 with the deadly attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
There have been sporadic attacks in Nairobi, Mombasa and North-Eastern parts of the country.