Today 27th March 2015 , the UK Foreign Office issued a fresh advisory affecting most part of Kenya coast as follows. “Latest update: Summary – the FCO now advise against all but essential travel to within 15km of the coast from the Tana River down to and including Tiwi; this area includes Mombasa Island, Moi International Airport (including transit through the airport), Malindi, Kilifi and Watamu” . As a resident of Mombasa, Kenya coast and a tourism player I find this latest advisory as punitive , unfair and highly regrettable.
The UK FCO issued the first non-essential travel advise on Mombasa way back in May 2014 and in 4 weeks we will be marking one year mark since that decision was made. Even international organisations based in Nairobi and the region are not allowed to book their trips to Mombasa nor hold meetings at the coast. The effects have been terrible on hotels and resorts along the entire Kenya coast. Close to 20,000 employees have lost their jobs while multi million investments are looking at gloomy future. We respect and appreciate that they have a duty to their citizens but they also need to remember that friendly nations must work together to deal with terror threats. The historic ties between UK & Kenya go way back and we expect far better treatment when it comes to such matters.Let us not sugar coat the impact of non essential travel, It is nothing short of economic embargo and it is devastating.
A truly friendly nation will not ask its citizens to keep off but ask them to exercise caution while helping the affected country to deal with any security threat. It is ironic that after the Paris attack the entire EU descended on Paris to stand with the French as a sign of solidarity. It takes you and I with other Kenyans and any other friendly nation to stand up and support us. I also know very many British visitors who have ignored the non-essential travel advise to continue visiting the Kenya coast. The economy of the coast region is in dire straits due to these long ban, if anything it is now having a counter effect. We have many youths who are jobless and are now even more prone to be recruited by terror groups not to mention robberies and petty crimes. For tourism and Kenya coast to do well we must get this advisory lifted all together , extending it was the least expected as we head into the Easter holidays.
I want to assure everyone that security has been beefed up tremendously hence the calm since December 2014. If you had plans to visit Mombasa & Kenya coast please do not hesitate to confirm your flights and resort booking.
Kenya Coast Tourism Association
CEO Heritage Hotels