Destinations Africa

Kenya Responds to Mass Shooting by Telling Foreign Tourists They Will Be Safe

Jun 16, 2014 5:06 pm

Skift Take

Kenya has had a terrible year for tourism, and it’s not going to get any easier as long as random attacks continue.

— Jason Clampet

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Lamu Town in Kenya, near the site of the attacks. Getty Images


The Kenyan Tourist Board has sought to reassure travellers, stressing that there are no international tourist facilities in Mpeketoni, where hostels and other businesses were burnt down in a prolonged attack by gunmen on Sunday night.

The farming community is located in Lamu County, around 54 kilometres (34 miles) south of the popular resort of Lamu Island.

While Mpeketoni is not an area frequented by international visitors, Lamu Island has previously been targeted by Somali kidnappers who snatched tourists in 2011 and 2012.

Security fears were also heightened in Mombasa recently and the island is part of the country that the Foreign Office currently warns British tourists against visiting.

Hundreds of tourists were evacuated from Mombasa in mid-May after the Foreign Office warned of a “high threat” of terrorism.

“I imagine tourism to Lamu must have taken a bit of a hit after the Mombasa scare and this latest incident will do little to reassure visitors,” said Brian Jackman, our safari expert. “However, most visitors fly direct to Lamu island from Nairobi and it is well outside the exclusion zone recommended by the Foreign Office.”

Tourist activities in Lamu continue as normal despite the attack, the tourist board said today. Safari tours and breaks in other popular coastal resorts of Diani, Malindi, Watamu and Kilifi are also unaffected.

The Foreign Office warns against all but essential travel to Mombasa Island and 5km of nearby coastline; the Eastleigh area of Nairobi; and an area north of Lamu along the border with Somalia.

“You should take care in public places where people gather and exercise a heightened level of vigilance,” advice on the Foreign Office website states. “There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. The main threat comes from extremists linked to Al Shabaab, a militant group that has carried out attacks in Kenya in response to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.”

Kenyan tourism under threat

September 2011: Judith and David Tebbutt, British holidaymakers, attacked on Kiwayu island, north of Lamu. Mrs Tebbutt was kidnapped and released six months later, her husband was killed.

October 2011: Marie Dedieu, a French woman, dies after being kidnapped from her holiday home in Lamu.

September 2013: At least 67 people killed after al-Shabab militants take control of Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi

May 2014: Foreign Office issues a travel advisory warning of an increased risk of terror attacks in Nairobi and coastal areas. British tourists are evacuated and bomb blasts rock Nairobi.

June 2014: At least 48 people killed in a raid on Mpeketoni.

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