PHOTO | FILE Part of the 1110 tourists from China who visited the country last month, raising hopes for a sector that has suffered over terrorism threats. As some Western nations asked their citizens to leave
Kenya, the government hopes other countries and Kenyans will continue to stand by Kenya.
President Kenyatta Sunday told off the West for imposing travel advisories against Kenya, saying
tourists from other countries will visit Kenya.
In an uncharacteristic tough language, President Kenyatta accused the West of double standards in the war against terrorism.
“A former US President once said ‘you are either with us or against us.’
But when we are hit, they say ‘ni shauri yetu’ (you are on your own),” said President Kenyatta.
He was speaking in Kikuyu, Kiambu County after attending a thanksgiving service at Alliance High
US, Britain and other countries have warned their nationals against visiting Kenya for fear of terrorist
Last week, Britain evacuated some of its nationals.
“Kenya hii ni yetu na tutaijenga. …wachukue watu
wao lakini utalii utaendelea, tutatafuta nchi
zingine, tutapigana na ugaidi, na hatutakubali
(Kenya is our country and we will develop it. Even if they take their tourists, we will look for
others. We will fight terrorists and we will not be cowed,” added the President.
The President’s anger with the travel advisories was evident when he said such announcements will only strengthen “the will of terrorists as opposed to helping us defeat that war”.
“Terrorism is not an evil that was born in Kenya. Terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon. Many
countries are faced with this particular problem. We have seen the ongoings in Nigeria, in India, Pakistan.
We have seen terrorist attacks in London, New York, in Boston.
Terrorism is not an issue that is peculiar to Kenyans. This is an evil that all of us around the world must be united to ensure that we are able to fight this particular terror,” President Kenyatta said on Friday.
“I continue to urge my fellow citizens to join us in this battle and to ensure we root it out from our midst.”
On Saturday, Mr Munyori Buku, the director of media and external relations at State House, termed the
advisories and evacuations as economic sabotage.
“Could somebody be green all the face with envy over the recent visit by the Chinese premier (Mr Li
Keqiang)? Well, Kenya as a sovereign nation picks its friends,” said Mr Buku.
The President’s spokesman added that the Coast evacuations were based on nothing tangible noting
that some British tourists had complained that they did not understand why they were being asked to go back home.
“This is a straight forward and shut case – economic sabotage!” he said on Sunday.
Quoting a source in the Foreign Office, The Independent newspaper in London reported that the UK government did not take the threats “lightly”, adding that the evacuation had been decided at ministerial level.
“We are aware of the concerns this will cause in Kenya,” said the source.
“But the safety of British nationals is our priority and this decision was very carefully thought through.”
It is instructive that both America and UK have never evacuated their nationals unless a country was at
Players in the tourism industry have also termed the evacuation of tourists from the Coast a deliberate
They said Kenya was being punished for making ‘wrong political choices’, especially when it comes to western nations who had threatened sanctions if Kenya voted the two ‘ICC indictees’ into presidency.
The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) and the Mombasa and Coast
Tourist Association (MCTA) leaders said the evacuation of British, Australian and French tourists from hotels in the South Coast raises more queries than answers.
“I have never seen this in all my 30-plus years in the industry. This happens elsewhere, not in Kenya,
and only when the host country is at war or severely threatened by war and insecurity. This is not the case with Kenya, that is why we believe it is sabotage,” said KAHC Kilifi County chairman Philip Chai, who is also the general manager of Lion in the
Sun Hotel owned by Italian billionaire Flavio Briatore in Malindi.
He added that although they were totally uncalled-for, “they are a
result of choices we made and we were told that choices have consequences”.
The British issued an advisory this week urging their citizens to reduce
all but essential travel to Mombasa and Lamu,which are major tourist destinations, as well as
sections of Nairobi.
The Americans have also issued
Mr Chai said a silent war between Kenya and the West has been going on for sometime and the evacuations are a culmination of the souring relations.
“There has been a deliberate war to kill the tourism industry because I believe the West is unhappy with Kenya diverting her allegiance to China. The signs have been there for sometime. First, it was calls for foreigners not to visit shopping malls, restaurants and eating places,” he said.
“Then it went to insurance companies in Europe warning clients that they risked losing compensations in case something happened while they were on holiday in Kenya. Then they went
ahead to refuse to pay insurance cover for travellers to Kenya.”
He termed the move by the West as “a poisonous jab to Kenya’s economy” which will further affect relations between Kenya and western nations.
“When the Westgate attack occurred, we saw
Israelis, Americans and Britons helping us, not the
Issuing travel advisory,” he said.
Heritage Hotels chief executive Mohamed Hersi described the evacuations as “bad for the industry” but blamed the tourists’ home countries for taking
a hasty action and extending cancellations to the end of October.
“Fortunately, they conducted the evacuations during the low season. I feel that the action was
exaggerated. They should not have extended the cancellations to October,” he said.
Bahari Beach Hotel Operations Manager Godfrey Juma said Kenyans should be hopeful as all was not
lost. Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa has assured tourists and people visiting the region
that the area was a safe destination.
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®