Kenya’s tourism stakeholders have welcomed the lifting travel advisory by the U.S. government it had issued to its citizens against visiting most parts of Kenya’s coastal region.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) said on Wednesday the move will assist in the revival of the tourist sector that had suffered due to the travel advisory.
The association’s Chief Executive Sam Ikwaye said it will be easy for Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) to target both Britain and U.S. as part of vigorous marketing strategy.
The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi stated that travel restrictions to Malindi, Mombasa and Kwale counties up to the Tanzanian border have been lifted in a move that may prove beneficial to the area’s tourism industry.
Restrictions have, however, been placed on any travel to towns near Kenya’s border with Somalia, with citizens cautioned against using the Likoni Ferry Services in Mombasa.
The American government has also cautioned those visiting Old Town in Mombasa, saying they should do so only during the day.
The travel advisories were issued in May with the government advising against travel to Eastleigh area in Nairobi and coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu.
Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner for Kenya, which has famed serene beaches that charm many Western tourists.
However, a three-year decline in tourist arrivals has seen thousands lose jobs and the local currency decline to a three-year low.
The East African nation received 177,085 tourists in the first quarter of 2015 while in the second, the number stood at 170,313, the tourist board figures showed.
In 2014, the number of tourists who visited Kenya in the first quarter stood at 255,965 while in the second 172,258.
During the first half of the year, Kenya witnessed a spate of terrorist attacks perpetuated by the Somali militant group the Al-Shabaab with the worst happening at Garissa University, where 147 people, including students, were killed.
Ikwaye disclosed that over 40, 000 people lost their jobs after more than 20 hotels in the coast were shut down due to the effect of the advisory issued by Britain and U.S. following frequent terrorist attacks.
Kenya Coast Tourists Association chairman Mohammed Hersi said the lifting of the advisory by America which is one of the source markets for Kenya was long over due.
Hersi also called for the lifting of non tariff barriers for international flights landing at Moi International Airport.
They said the non tariff barriers imposed on Qatar Airways and EtihadAirways are affecting tourism business at the Coast.
Hersi said the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority should allow all the international airlines to land and take off from Mombasa in order to revive the sector.