15 July 2014

Kenya: Richard Branson Blasts UK Over Travel Bans

Photo: Mombasa County Govt
Terror attacks (file photo): Kenya has said travel advisory to UK not retaliatory.

Nairobi — British billionaire Richard Branson has criticised foreign governments especially from developing countries for being quick to issue travel advisories over terrorism threats.

Citing the recent travel advisory by the UK government against Kenya, Branson wrote on his blog (http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson) that the move was ill advised and could hurt Kenya's economy.

"Over the years, governments have used wide-ranging travel advisories on many developing countries blighted by acts of terrorism. Bali and Kenya are two key examples," he said.

Branson laments that it is not usually the case when these countries like the US and UK are faced with similar terrorists threat.

"We have been quick to encourage a return to normality as soon as possible. When London was hit by Underground and buses bombings, countries all over the world showed support and didn't issue travel warnings against the UK," he points out.

Branson who is the founder of Virgin Group - which comprises more than 400 companies - says that most of these advisories are also exaggerated which if not well dealt with may tarnish the image of a country and lead to huge economic challenges in the long term.

With the case of UK to Kenya, Branson says the Foreign Office has not been factual in some cases hence giving a false impression that all of Kenya is too dangerous to visit yet most of the areas are safe.

He argues that UK government has a responsibility to highlight the facts and that advising against all non-essential travel to its citizens could destroy Kenya's economy, which depends hugely on tourism.

He says apart from hurting the economy, the travel advisories in a great part, continue to support terrorism.

"The Foreign Office warns about the extremist group Al Shabaab. However, travel advisories urging people not to visit countries are exactly what terrorists want. Such advisories destroy economies, causing dire circumstances and resentment, from which environments are created where extremism is more likely to thrive."

Governments, he adds, should think carefully about advisories against other countries that suffer terrorist attacks adding that instead of communicating advisories, adding that they should instead continue to support countries like Kenya and Bali through tourism and trade.

"Kenya is an incredible country full of wonderful people, that I have had the pleasure to spend time with on many occasions. I look forward to my next visit," he maintains.

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