A dark cloud hangs over Kenya’s tourism sector after Thursday’s terror attack at Garissa University College in which 148 people were killed and 79 others wounded by Somali-based Al-Shabaab militants.


The attack came amidst spirited efforts by Kenya to revive its tourism sector despite various travel advisories issued by its key allies in the West led by the UK.
President Uhuru Kenyatta protested against a travel advisory issued by Britain warning its citizens against visiting parts of Nairobi and the coastal area, the bedrock of teh East African nation’s tourism sector.
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all but essential travel to areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border, Garissa County, the Eastleigh area of Nairobi, Lamu County and those areas of Tana River County, Mombasa island, Moi International Airport (including transit through the airport), Malindi, Kilifi and Watamu,” said the advisory issued March 31.
“Kenya is safe,” declared President Kenyatta, who went ahead and asked the diaspora to help in marketing the country as a tourist destination.
However, barely hours after the remarks, the terrorists struck, perpetuating the worst attack in Kenya’s history.
Analysts note that it would take Kenya a lot of efforts to attract tourists after the attack.
“The Garissa attack has brought to a cropper all the efforts stakeholders in the tourism sector had made to market Kenya. Selling Kenya abroad as a safe haven and a tourist destination is now a magnanimous task going by how the terror attack was captured in international media,” said economics lecturer Henry Wandera on Saturday.
Tourism is Kenya’s key foreign exchange earner, bringing in over 1 billion U.S. dollars annually.
However, with increased terror attacks, the inflows have dropped as tourist numbers dwindle to an average of a million a year, down from about 1.5 million.
Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Education Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers recently noted that players in the sector have lost more than 455 million dollars due to insecurity, with thousands of people losing jobs.
Latest figures from Kenya National Bureau of Statistic indicate that in January, 50,953 tourists came to Kenya through its two main airports, Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi (40,846) and Moi in Mombasa (9,570).
During a similar period last year, 75,906 tourists visited Kenya through Jomo Kenyatta and 19,853 via Moi.
Tourist analyst Sandra Rwese said that Kenya should boost its image globally as it improves its security to attract tourists.
“Kenya must work extra hard to refocus potential tourists away from highly publicized insecurity issues,” said Rwese, recommending the use of social media to run campaigns that create positive images about the country. Enditem

Source: Xinhua



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