The new FCO Travel Advisory is both punitive & counter productive

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.

KeepCalm4

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.

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman

Kenya Coast Tourism Association

CEO Heritage Hotels

#SomeoneTellDonaldTrump, Africa is a continent and not a country.

Donald J. Trump , You seem to have a huge problem to understand Africa a place many of us call home. Let me help you to understand the sheer size of Africa. Ignorance is dangerous more so when it comes from a man I hold in high esteem. You have been in the forefront pushing for flight ban from West Africa to the United States in wake of the Ebola crisis. In wake of Sars I do not recall you calling for flight ban from China, Thailand etc . You seem to have a problem linking Obama and anything African. He may have his lineage in Africa but he is certainly American and he is the President of the United States of America.  Please learn to differentiate the two.  If you may still be behind news , Nigeria one of the countries in Africa and the largest economy just managed to defeat Ebola while the US is still struggling with one or two cases with people like you spreading more panic rather than constructive means to deal with it. Firstly Africa is a huge continent and we have 53 independent nations that make the continent of Africa. If anything Africa is more diverse than any other continent in the world. From the North  we have Egypt, Morocco to the South Namibia and South Africa, From the East Comoro islands to the West Gambia & Mauritania .  Kenya my home is home to safari, best tea & coffee, world beating athletes, I am sure many are getting ready for New York marathon, please don’t run away when they show up. The continent of Africa can fit US, China, India and Western Europe & Argentina. If I recall well Dr Mo Ibrahim did advice that people like yourself can do themselves a great favour , please google Africa to learn more about these great continent. It is all free of charge.

You want a career in Tourism? Talk to Mohammed Hersi for free advice & guidance

I have noticed with regret very many parents and their children spending a fortune on a course in tourism and hospitality without a clear career path . Many have come to me when it is too late to seek guidance . I have chosen to do something about it through my blog  & social media. “ You want to pursue a career in Hospitality & Tourism? Then talk to me for free”   I shall guide , advice and mentor any young person looking at a career in tourism . I also have many willing Industry veterans willing to do this for free. A FB page will also come up . I will critically analyse some of the colleges even universities  esp rogue ones taking desperate Kenyans for a ride. It is my intention to empower parents and young Kenyans seeking a career in tourism In Kenya and East Africa. All this will be free of charge . It is the least I can do to give back. Pose your question and I will respond but the final call is all yours.  1: Before you enroll in any college , please ask them to give you 10 of their successful alumni be it in employment or entrepreneurship. 2: If you will spend more than 50% of your time on attachment then run away from that college . More to follow as you ask questions. I will only be able to respond after office hours and weekends so please bear with me. Please note this is not a job seeking platform, It is purely career guidance.

It is Good News that UK Foreign Office relaxes travel advice for Nairobi

In an amendment to their Travel Advice on Kenya yesterday, the British government has now lifted all travel warnings on Nairobi apart from advising against visiting the suburb of Eastleigh. The British High Commission in Nairobi indicated that they expect this will help visitors to be more confident when travelling into JKIA and transferring to Nairobi hotels.

Relaxing the travel advisory brings Nairobi in line with other cities.The Foreign Office says in other comparable cities worldwide it does not detail particular areas that may or may not be safe to enter.

The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has also added wording to clarify and confirm that there are no restrictions on travel by British citizens to the famous safari parks in Kenya, stating “the FCO do not advise against travel to Kenya’s popular safari destinations in the national parks, reserves and wildlife conservancies including the Aberdare National Park, Amboseli, Laikipia, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, Meru, Mount Kenya, Samburu, Shimba Hills, Tsavo” and adds “Most visits to game reserves and other tourist areas are trouble-free.”

Although the travel advisory against Mombasa island and its immediate environs remains, there are no restrictions on the airports of Mombasa or Malindi or Diani.  The Government of Kenya and the county government  with torusim players and security organs are working very closely to ensure that the gaps that were highlighted are addressed so that the advisory on Mombasa is also reviewed.  The Kenya Tourism Federation welcomes this softening of the Travel Advisory and looks forward to the lifting of restrictions on travel to the coastal areas  including Mombasa and the island of Lamu as soon as possible in view of the improvements to security that have been made in those areas.

British Government ( FCO Travel advice) Please lift the ban on Mombasa Kenya, It is safe

Alison ignored the ban to travel to Mombasa and had excellent time. It is the like of Alison we would like to salute as tourism players in kenya. We still appeal to the British Government to lift the ban since a lot has been done matters security. This is a clear testimony by Alison from reading UK Alison O, who ignored the travel advisory by the British Government and visited Mombasa and stayed at Voyager Beach Resort. In her own words this is her feedback courtesy of TripAdvisor website.and I thought I should share the same. “ As a repeat customer of voyager I was very sad that a travel advisory put in place by the govt of the UK suggested that Mombasa was a high risk area for terrorism. My friend and I decided to ignore the ban and go on our holiday anyway as we knew that the advisory was a complete over reaction to some incidents that had covered further north and in Nairobi. As usual we were not disappointed by the voyager hotel, clean, comfortable, fantastic food and first class entertainment from the animation team. Staff are second to none, friendly, helpful and highly professional. A super holiday, super surroundings, super staff, simply the best….already planning visit number 15 for next year!!”

Flying to Mombasa at 1.950/- Shillings? Not even walking is cheaper …

My fellow coast hoteliers let us join hands and exploit this window of opportunity.

ATC News by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome

THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE CHEAPEST FARES

(Posted 18th August 2014)

Flying for a song comes to mind when Jambojet yesterday evening announced the sale of 5.000 seats in September at a cost of just 1.950/- Kenya Shillings, one way, all taxes included, for their destinations of Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret and Kisumu.

While bookings must be done between the 19th and 21st of August travel can take place at any date in September and as was the case with past such campaigns, tech savvy travelers will no doubt be on their computers at the stroke of midnight when the 19th of August comes knocking to book and take advantage of the deal, which will sell like hot cakes. Going by the current rate of the Kenya Shilling versus the US Dollar a traveler will pay a mere 23 US Dollars for a sector and can then take advantage, at least…

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A few facts about Ebola & Travel to Kenya by: Jake Grieves Cook & Mohammed Hersi

Following extensive news coverage in the international media about the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, I would like to share a few facts with you so that you are well informed on this weighty matter. The situation is as follows:

1. The current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa was first reported in March 2014, and involves Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

2. Kenya is not affected by the outbreak of Ebola as there has not been any recorded case of Ebola in this country.

3. The affected countries are on the extreme West of the African Continent, thousands of kilometers from Kenya and indeed Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are closer to Madrid, Paris and London than they are to Kenya in East Africa.

4. It is considered very unlikely that travellers from the affected countries would come to Kenya overland by road as it could entail a journey of more than 2 weeks and would require driving through places like the Central African Republic, DRC or Southern Sudan where there are serious security issues and disruptions to road travel. Any infected person setting off from West Africa to undertake such a journey by road to Kenya would be very likely to have developed obvious symptoms before arriving at the Kenya border post where screening is now in place to identify and isolate anyone considered to be at risk of carrying the disease. So the possibility of Ebola spreading overland from West Africa to Kenya is considered extremely unlikely.

5. Travellers from West Africa normally come to Kenya by air just as they can travel at present on flights from West Africa to Europe, America, theMiddle East, Asia and Australia. The international airlines have implemented screening for passengers boarding flights in West Africa and the Kenyan Government and Ministry of Health, working in close co-operation with the Kenya Airports Authority, have now set up arrangements at the international airport in Nairobi to screen all passengers arriving on flights from West Africa to prevent any infected person from entering the country.

6. According to the medical authorities, the overall risk of a traveller contracting Ebola is very low as it requires direct contact with the bodily fluids or secretions (e.g. blood, saliva, urine, etc) of an infected person or dead body. Ebola is not an airborne virus like influenza or tuberculosis, it is not spread by coughing or sneezing and is not in water or food. Simply washing hands with soap and water can destroy the virus. Infected persons become contagious only after the onset of symptoms. As symptoms worsen, the ability to transmit the virus increases. As a result, patients are usually most likely to infect others at a severe stage of the disease, when they are visibly, and physically, too ill to travel and at that stage they will probably not be physically able to board an aircraft. WHO is therefore advising against imposing travel bans to and from affected countries.The Director of WHO Global Capacity Alert and Response has stated that because the risk of Ebola transmission on aircraft is so low, WHO does not consider air transport hubs at high risk for further spread of Ebola. The highest Ebola virus level is found in a dead body, according to WHO, so the highest risk of Ebola transmission is in preparing a body for burial. The persons most at risk are those in very close direct contact with infected patients or corpses such as doctors, nurses or mortuary attendants.

7. The World Health Organisation (WHO), has clarified that Kenya’s Ebola risk profile has not changed, as reported by the media. In a statement, the WHO has commended Kenya for its efforts in putting in place measures to prevent possible importation and to implement early detection and containment if a case is detected in an arriving traveller.

8. Staying in international hotels in Nairobi and at the coastal beach resorts or going on safari to the wildlife parks in Kenya at the present time is considered to entail no risk of contracting Ebola. We will continue to monitor the news bulletins and daily updates from The World Health Organisation to ensure that we are kept informed and can act in the interests of our customers’ safety, which is always our highest priority.

The Non But Essential travel advisory is hurting Mombasa more than Tui Thomson exit…

It is now official that Thompson Airline the only charter flight from the UK into Mombasa will only come back in winter 2015. Allow me to state a few things. I appreciate the fact that Thomson was flying to Mombasa and they opted to leave and in addition they made dramatic move to evacuate all the tourists they had brought to Mombasa. Allow me to lay down a few facts so that we do not  get misinformed. Fact No1: Thompson flight was 1 flight a week bringing on average 270 passengers to Mombasa for a 7 or 14 days holiday.  Fact No2;  Thompson was using a few select resorts at the Kenya coast and many of the resorts were not even getting their guests . I can speak for both Sarova Whitesands during my tenure they left due to rates issues and they also stopped using Voyager Beach Resort due to rates issues. Fact No3: If suppose Thomson flight was fully booked all year round and I will even allow them full flight in the low season it means they will have brought 14,040 passengers including many who buy ticket only and end up in private residence and Mtwapa. Now the numbers of British tourists in 2013 was 180,000 + which means Thompson figure is hardly 6.5%.  The lack of Thompson flight is not what is hurting us. What is hurting us MOST is the Non but essential travel advisory making Mombasa and good part of Kenya coast a no go zone area for the British tourists. Once that is lifted then KQ, BA, into Nbi and ET will bring us load of English tourists into Mombasa some via Nbi or Addis . Tourists on scheduled flights are normally better  yield clientele. Therefore it is misleading and totally wrong to keep piling our misery on the exit of Thompson flight. What we need once security is sorted out which I believe we have now done so is to lobby the UK government  to lift the Non but essential travel so that a would be British traveller can happily and freely choose to travel to  Mombasa and Kenya coast.