British tourists are warned against “all but essential travel” to a larger part of Kenya’s beach coast due to a “high threat from tourism”
The Foreign Office (FO) is advising against “all but essential travel” to within 15km of Kenya’s coast from the Tana River to Tiwi. The advice covers the area including Mombasa Island, Moi International Airport (including the transit to the airport), Malindi, Kilifi and Watamu, the FCO website said.
Tourists currently in this area without “essential reason” to remain are being advised to leave.
Parts of the coast not affected by the updated warning include Ukunda airport, Diani Beach, Galu Beach, Kinondo, Msambweni, Funzi Island, Shimoni and Wasini Island.
The warning for parts beyond the coast remain the same, with continued advice against all but essential travel to areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border, the Garissa County, the Eastleigh area of Nairobi, the Lamu Country, and the areas of the Tana River County north of the Tana River.
Diani beach, Kenya (Fotolia/AP)
The FO issued the updated warning following a “high threat from tourism, including kidnapping” in the country.
“The main threat comes from extremists linked to Al Shabaab, a militant group that has carried out attacks in Kenya in response to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia” the FO said.
The majority of Kenya falls outside of the warning, including Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport and the country’s safari destinations in the national parks and wildlife reserves, including Aberdare National Park, Amboseli, Laikipia, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, Meru, Mount Kenya, Samburu, Shimba Hills and Tsavo.
The security of the country is said to be under constant review.
“The Kenyan authorities have increased security to counter potential reprisal attacks,” the FO’s website states.
“Attacks could be indiscriminate in places frequented by foreigners including hotels, bars, restaurants, sports bars and nightclubs, sporting events, supermarkets, shopping centres, beaches, buses, trains and transport hubs. Coastal areas have been the target of a large number of attacks”
Travellers are advised to “take care in public places where people gather, and exercise a heightened level of vigilance”.
The Kenya Tourism Board acknowledged the updated FO advice, but was “disappointed” by the decision, “particularly at a time when Kenya has been experiencing calm across the coast and throughout Kenya as a whole” Muriithi Ndegwa, the managing director of the tourist board, told TTG Digital.
“The UK remains our number one source market and whilst many British holiday makers continue to enjoy a safari and the southern areas of the coast we will work with the British government to withdraw this advisory and ensure our British visitors can continue enjoying all areas of the Kenya coast,” he added.
Nairobi, Kenya (Fotolia/AP)
Last June, Al-Shabaab, Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked terror group, claimed responsibility for an attack by dozens of extremists on the Kenyan coastal town of Mpeketoni which killed 49 people.
A month earlier, ten people were killed while dozens were wounded in twin bomb attacks in busy market in Nairobi.
Killing 67 people, it was the deadliest terror attack since the Westgate Shopping Centre raid in 2013.
Both incidents prompted the tour operators Kuoni, Thomson and First Choice to suspend their trips to Mombasa last year and evacuate their customers from the country as a precautionary measure.
In view of the latest updated travel advice, Kuoni UK has decided “to extend the off sale period for Mombasa until December 2015 but we will continue to monitor the situation on an ongoing basis working closely with the FO, ” the company said in a statement.
“Kuoni will be looking at any existing bookings that were made to Mombasa and will assist customers to amend these to an alternative destination or provide a full refund,” the company said.