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KTF and KTB Welcome Lifting of Travel Bans

BUSINESS
By Frankline Sunday | June 20th 2015
British High Commissioner Christian Turner  and Narok Governor Samuel Tunai joins Masaai traditional dancers  on May 29,2015at Maasai Mara game reserve .Turnertoured Mara with the county boss to discuss way to boost tourism sector in the county. PHOTO:KIPSANG JOSEPH

Tourism industry players have welcomed the lifting of travel advisories by the United Kingdom even as the country moves into the 2015 peak season.

The Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) and the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) have hailed the decision by the United Kingdom to revise travel advisories placed on the port city of Mombasa last year. “We are delighted with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s decision to lift their travel advice for Kenya’s coast from Watamu to Diani as announced Thursday,” said KTB Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa.

“While our operators have continued to send their guests to the southern areas of the coast including Diani, Wasini and Msambweni, we look forward to welcoming guests back to Mombasa and the beautiful coastline of Watamu.”

Kenya’s tourism industry has been in the doldrums for the last three years with the performance of the country’s largest foreign exchange earner further dipping after the attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in September 2013 which prompted travel bans from key western markets in US, UK, Australia and France.

Industry players have since had to scale down operations leading to thousands of job cuts and billions of losses as most hotels in the coastal area operate at a fraction of their capacity.

KTF, the umbrella body of private sector tourism stakeholders also came out to express appreciation of the revision of the travel ban from the UK stating that the timing is very opportune.

Vote of confidence

“KTF specifically wishes to express its sincere appreciation to the British High Commissioner, Christian Turner, for taking time to visit, first the Maasai Mara and then Coast to engage with the various stakeholders,” said the federation in a statement. “The amendment of the FCO Advisory comes as a most welcome relief for Coastal tourism and is viewed as a direct reflection of the gains made to improve the safety and security in that region.”

The revised travel advisories by the UK is the latest indication that fortunes could finally be changing for the better for Kenya’s troubled tourism industry and a full on recovery is now on the horizon.

According to the KTB, somef 117,201 tourists visited Kenya from the United Kingdom, which remains the country’s leading source of traffic. While this number is 20 per cent less than the 149, 699 tourists from the same country in 2013, KTB states that the drop has been attributed largely to the 14 month ban on non-essential travel.

US President Barack Obama is set to visit the country next month and the head of the Catholic Church Pope Francis also intimated that he would like to visit Kenya in November on his tour of Africa. The high profile visits have been a welcome vote of confidence and a show of solidarity for the country’s ability to overcome the current security challenges.

The Kenyan government further allocated the tourism ministry Sh5.2 billion to be channeled towards financing tourism recovery. “This much awaited Update should not however, cause the stakeholders at the Coast to rest on their laurels as there is still need to remain just as vigilant as ever in order to safeguard the gains made,” stated KTF. “The safety of our visitors remains a paramount concern and KTF urges stakeholders to jealously protect the tourism product at all levels.”

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