Kenya tourism officials last night voiced relief as the UK lifted a warning against travelling to part of the African nation’s coast, including Mombasa.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office previously warned against all but essential travel to almost all of the country’s Indian Ocean coastline.
Warnings remain in place for part of the coast and anywhere within 60km (37 miles) of the border with Somalia due to a “high threat from terrorism”.
Warnings also remain for areas including Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb.
While the south coast has always remained open for business, tourists will now be able to once again visit the majority of the Kenya coast, with the only exclusion now being Malindi and areas further north, including Lamu County.
“The area to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel does not include Kenya’s safari destinations in the national parks, reserves and wildlife conservancies,” it announced in an updated travel advisory.
Phyllis Kandie, Kenya’s cabinet secretary, east African affairs, commerce and tourism, welcomed the decision to lift the travel advisory against non-essential travel to Mombasa, Kilifi and Watamu as “timely”.
She described the move a major boost to the tourism industry and appealed to other countries to follow suit.
“This is a huge endorsement to our recovery efforts and we look forward to working together with our stakeholders to turn the sector around” she said.
Kandie reiterated Kenyan government efforts on improving security, adding that the move would contribute immensely towards tourism recovery efforts.
Kenya Tourism Board managing director, Muriithi Ndegwa, said: “We are delighted with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s decision to lift their travel advice for Kenya’s coast from Watamu to Diani.
“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 and Kilifi.”
The FCO says that the “main threat” of terrorism – including kidnapping – in the warning areas comes from “extremists linked to al-Shabab”, a militant group which has carried out attacks in response to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.
There have been several attacks in Kenya recently, including the killing of at least 148 people at Garissa University College in April.
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