No downturn after terrorist atrocity, says Kenyan tourism board

No downturn after terrorist atrocity, says Kenyan tourism board

The Kenya Tourism Board says it has yet to see any downturn in tourist arrivals to the country as a result of the terrorist siege in Nairobi last month.

At least 61 civilians and six Kenyan soldiers were killed in the attack, carried out by Somali-based Islamist group al-Shabab, which began on September 21 at the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi.

Tourism board managing director Muriithi Ndegwa said major travel industry events were going ahead as planned in Kenya and added that the country would maintain its large-scale presence at the World Travel Market trade show in London in November.

He said: “From the onset we have not seen any specific effect in terms of tourist arrivals into the country. We were expecting cancellations for two major international conferences here but in fact that didn’t happen.

“We feel very sad about what happened but we do not want people to play into the hands of the terrorists [by not visiting]. Terrorism is now an international phenomenon and tourists are very resilient.”

Ndegwa is confident that if there is a dent in arrival numbers, tourism will “rebound” quickly to the destination.

He added that the tourist board had moved quickly to put out messages of reassurance to the trade via the press.

“We have ramped up our activity in terms of giving updates of what is happening and what we are doing to ensure that the safety of tourists and civilians is in hand,” he said.

This month the World Travel Awards’ Africa Gala Ceremony 2013 and Magical Kenyan Travel expo, a tourism exhibition hosted by the tourism board, are being held in Nairobi.

Ndegwa added: “We expect a full house for the World Travel Awards and tour operators and airlines from all over Africa to come for the expo. People have asked about security and we have said that it will be enhanced.”

The tourism board will also attend World Travel Market as planned in London in November. Ndegwa would not reveal if there were any plans to ramp up marketing to the destination.

“We are coming as a big team to WTM and the tourism board and private sector will be working together to reassure the world. We will hold a press conference and if we have anything to say we will say it then,” he said.

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