The United Kingdom has removed its advice against all but essential travel to Malindi and Watamu. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, this follows a review of risk posed to visitors from the UK in the two Kenyan towns.
In June the UK government also revised its advice against all but essential travel to Mombasa and Kilifi. Lamu, Garissa and Eastleigh however remain flagged as no-go areas for UK citizens.
Between January and May, compared to the same period last year, Kenya’s tourist numbers dipped by 25 percent with the biggest decline coming from the United Kingdom.
That is according to the Kenya Tourism Board which reported that the number of visitors to Kenya from the UK decreased by 35 percent to 36,022.
The United Kingdom has traditionally been one of Kenya’s biggest tourist source markets but the numbers have steadily declined over the last few years.
A decline that has negatively impacted Kenya’s GDP given tourism has traditionally been Kenya’s second greatest foreign exchange earner after agriculture. A figure that has declined to 12 percent in 2015 from 14.7 percent in 2005 according to data site Knoema.
Kenya’s coast, which has traditionally been one of its biggest attractions, has been hard hit by the decline leading to rising unemployment with a large number of hotels closing shop in the low season.
The government’s response has been to explore new markets and lobby its biggest source markets against issuing travel advisories in response to terror attacks on the country saying that way the terrorists “win.”
Outgoing UK High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner has however time and again made the point that the advisories are not selective and are not issued in, “a lack of solidarity,” but as a sworn duty of the FCO to the British citizenry.
Tourism stakeholders have welcomed the review with the Kenya Tourism Federation CEO Susan Ongalo terming it a welcome step while urging security agents not to relax their guard.
Kenya Tourism Board’s Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa has on his part called “on other Nations to follow suit and revise their travel advisories positively.”