Britain on Thursday removed a warning against travelling to the Indian Ocean resort of Mombasa, offering some respite to Kenya’s tourism industry after a spate of Islamist attacks.
Kenya, which offers palm-fringed beaches and safaris, has long relied on tourist dollars as a valuable source of foreign exchange. But a downturn in visitors has put pressure on the shilling and forced some hotels out of business.
Kenya’s government has criticised the warnings from Britain and other countries, saying its security forces are successfully thwarting attacks.
The latest travel advice, published on a British government website, says tourists can safely visit the beach resorts of Mombasa, Kilifi, Watamu and Diani, as well as Kenya’s famed game parks including the Masai Mara.
It urged Britons to avoid areas near the Somali border, some parts of Nairobi and parts of the Kenyan coast. It cited threats including Somali Islamist group Al Shabaab, which mounted deadly attacks on a university in April and a Nairobi shopping mall in 2013.
The advisory also warns against travel to Garissa County, in Kenya’s northeast, where 148 people were killed in the university attack.
Britain helps train and support Kenya’s security forces, along with other Western countries including the United States.
The change was welcomed in Kenya’s tourism sector.
“That is very relieving and the best news for tourism this season. The damage is already too big, but the lifting of advisory on Mombasa gives us new hope,” said Sam Ikwaye, of the umbrella body Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers.