Kenya’s tourism industry laments latest US anti travel advisory


(Posted 04th July 2016)

While US security chiefs now believe another terrorist attack against America is almost inevitable has the US State Department thought it fit to slap another anti travel advisory against Kenya.
Mombasa and Lamu have been singled out in this latest anti travel advisory though it is not clear if the statement meant the wider Lamu county or the town of Lamu. The town itself, host of many cultural and religious festivals, has not suffered any security incidents in the past and is only now slowly recovering from similar unwarranted travel bans inflicted by Western countries.
In Mombasa in particular was the Likoni Ferry named, itself of course a regular feature here over delays, ferries stalling midstream, poor management, strikes and the general challenges a neglected parastatal company is subjected to, i.e. much red tape and lack of resources.
The State Department cited unspecified safety concerns when it advised US citizens to avoid using the Likoni ferry while Mombasa’s old stone town, which included UNESCO World Heritage Site Fort Jesus, should only be visited during day hours. It is expected that regular US allies will replicate the anti travel advisory in due course especially in the wake of two busses being shot at near Mandera in northern Kenya close to the Somali border.
The Likoni warning will be a blow to the efforts of Diani based resorts to kickstart the high season and attract more guests as most tourists still use the ferry crossing as their route of choice, in the absence of the bypass from the international airport and the Nairobi to Mombasa Highway ready for another few years.
While several scheduled flights directly from Nairobi to the Ukunda aerodrome are available, Safarilink and Air Kenya from Wilson Airport and Jambojet from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, is there consensus among the Kenya coast tourism fraternity that the sooner the bypass is ready the better, in addition of which there is strong lobbying going on to build a bridge over the channel.
As a result will the ‘Happy 4th of July‘ greetings from Kenya to America no doubt be rather more muted than a year ago, when President Obama was about to visit the country. That visit went without a single security incident though local American TV networks had showered Kenya with mistrust and open accusations, most notably CNN’s faux pas of calling the country a ‘Hotbed of Terror‘. When Kenya’s Civil Aviation for instance issued the mandatory NOTAM – short for Notice to Airmen – about airspace closures for the arrival and departure of President Obama did the networks swiftly blame Kenya for security breaches while not a word of this nature has ever been uttered when Obama visits Western countries and similar mandatory NOTAMs are published there.

Meanwhile have Kenyans commenting on media reports about this development traded barbs and insults against each other, not exactly showing the ‘We Are One‘ spirit of standing united against foreign propaganda AND against terror in all its shapes and forms.