The Star (Nairobi)

17 May 2014

Kenya: 500 UK Tourists Flee Mombasa After Advisories

MORE than 500 foreign tourists have been evacuated from the hotels they were staying in on the Kenyan Coastline following the travel advisories issued by the US, the UK and France.

Mombasa's Moi International Airport manager Yatich Kagungo yesterday said some 336 tourists left on Thursday night and another batch of 256 was to leave by yesterday evening.

He said Britain sent two Thompson Airline flights, a Dreamliner and a Boeing 77 to Mombasa to carry out the evacuation orders.

The Dreamliner left with 336 passengers at 11.15pm on Thursday night while the Boeing 77 was to leave at 4:00pm yesterday.

Addressing the press at the airport, Kagungo said it was unfortunate that UK issued out an advisory to Kenya, which he said, is still a safe tourism destination.

"We are saddened by the turn of events but we are hoping that they will soon rescind the decision before the start of the high season in July," he said.

He said TUI Travel, a British leisure travel group listed on the London Stock Exchange, has suspended all its leisure trips to Kenya following the advisories.

However, he said they are in consultation with the travel groups that are suspending their trips to Kenya to ensure that services resume as soon as possible.

Mombasa county commissioner Nelson Marwa, who had just arrived at the airport from Nairobi, said they have secured all the key installations in the region.

He said security has been beefed up in and around the airport, shopping malls and the Likoni ferry crossing channel.

"We are screening everyone, including the government vehicles. We are not leaving anything to chance. Kenyans and foreigners should not be afraid in Mombasa," he said.

On Thursday evening, tourism stakeholders at the Coast expressed their disappointment following the advisories and evacuation orders.

Kwale tourism executive Adam Sheikh said this is the first ever travel advisories issued to Kenya which has been accompanied by evacuation orders.

He said Kenya is still a safe destination of choice unlike other parts of the world which are attacked every now and then.

"There is nothing to cause a security alarm and we are certain these tourists are unwilling to cut short their holidays in Kenya," he said.

Mombasa's Joab Tumbo said the magnitude of the insecurity incidents which have happened in the country cannot lead to evacuation of foreigners.

"Many Kenyans working in hotels will lose employment and this might lead to increased cases insecurity," he said.

Sam Ikwaye, the executive officers of Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers said UK issuing travel advisories signifies that terrorist have achieved in the goals to cause fear and disturb peace.

He said if Britain has intelligence report of pending terrorism attack, it should share with the Kenyan counterpart and work on ways of saving all Kenyan and not their citizens only.

"If they have information that we do not have, let them share with our government for possible action since terrorism is global issue," he said.

Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association CEO Millicent Odhiambo, said UK should rescind its decision immediately to save Kenyans tourism economy.

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