Kenya: Tourism stakeholders condemn the United States. On the latest Kenya travel advisory


Just as the tourism sector was starting to recover, it suffered another blow after the United States warned its citizens against travel to the Kenya-Somalia border and some coastal areas.

Washington issued an advisory on Kenya on Wednesday due to the increase in Covid-19 cases. Authorities have also warned Americans against travel to the Somali border and some coastal areas due to the risk of terrorism.

But tourism industry players, led by Sam Ikwaye, director of the Kenya Hotel and Catering Association, said the warnings will further hurt the ailing sector which is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. of coronavirus.

“The global travel industry was on its knees for most of 2020. Africa and Kenya played no part in the spread,” Dr Ikwaye said.

“This is a global pandemic that should not be blamed on Kenya. This update is the death knell for this fragile industry as there is so much interest in direct flights to the coastal region.”

But the hotelier expressed hope that the US intelligence had been shared with the Kenyan authorities.

“We can find common ground to support the Kenyan economy by learning about the sector’s investments and working to support the industry,” he said.

He said foreign countries unfairly issued advisories and sanctions against Africa due to negative perceptions.

“We understand that they have a duty and a responsibility to their citizens, but pointing the finger at Kenya on Covid-19 can be callous. We know that we have been quite successful as a country and that we are doing better than many. African countries, ”he said.

He cited Kenya’s efforts to roll out mass vaccination, saying a significant number of tourism and hotel service providers had been vaccinated.

Mombasa, for example, had covered more than 50% of its hotel staff by April 2021. The county has more than 10,000 hospitality and hospitality professionals.

Travelers Beach Hotel sales manager Hilary Siele said the notice did not reflect the true situation of Covid-19 and terrorism in Kenya.

“We have slowed down Covid-19 just like Western countries and vaccination participation rates are much better thanks to civic education. Banditry and terrorism are not as alarming as suggested,” he said. -he declares.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has raised its travel health advisory for Kenya from level two, which was released in June and indicates a moderate level of Covid-19, to three.

The change has been attributed to a high level of Covid-19 infections in Kenya.

“Your risk of contracting Covid-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA-cleared vaccine,” the statement read.

The development came less than a week after the UK kept Kenya on its Covid-19 red list amid rising coronavirus cases.

The United States has warned its nationals to be especially careful when traveling after dark anywhere in Kenya due to crime.

“Violent crimes, such as armed robbery, assault, home invasion and kidnapping, can happen at any time. Local police are willing, but often lacking the capacity to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents and terrorist attacks. Emergency and fire medical services are also limited, ”the statement said.

But tourism players have condemned the US government, saying the travel advisory is unfair, extreme and callous as the world grapples with a pandemic that has disrupted economies.

The US action comes as Kenya targets international tourists from countries that have carried out mass vaccinations for their populations, including the US, UK and China.

The United States is Kenya’s top source market, with 49,178 arrivals between January and June this year, according to data from the Tourism Research Institute (TRI).

Kenya received 305,635 international visitors between January and June of this year. Uganda was second after the United States with 31,418, followed by Tanzania (31,291), China (18,069), United Kingdom (16,264), India (13,950) and Rwanda (9,800). The others are Somalia (9,194), Nigeria (8,267) and Ethiopia (7,487).

Kenya is focusing its efforts to revive the sector on visitors from the US, UK and China. Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said nationals of the three countries are among those who will travel earlier than others.

Mr Balala called for a mass vaccination to instill confidence in international travelers.

He said a Covid-19 passport will soon be required for travel, urging Kenyans to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

“In the future, the Covid-19 passport will be a requirement. We have to be ready because these policies are dictated elsewhere. Even now you cannot visit some countries without double vaccination. This is the reality of life,” did he declare.

On June 28, President Uhuru Kenyatta said his government would immunize the entire adult population of 26 million Kenyans by 2022.

By Christmas this year, he said more than 10 million adults will have been vaccinated.

The president said experts say Kenya will have strengthened the capacity to immunize 150,000 people every day starting in August.

“And if a vaccine for minor populations is registered by the start of next year, we plan to vaccinate an additional 4 million young adults by June 2022,” he said.

“With a vaccinated population of 30 million, this will allow us to begin the journey towards ‘herd immunity’ against this pandemic. And that is our intention for the next 12 months.”

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