Kenya’s tourism stakeholders have welcomed the lifting of travel ban by Britain that barred its citizens from traveling to Lamu County in the coastal region.
Britain had warned its citizens against visiting Kenya’s coast and northeastern region, citing terror attack threats by Al-Shabaab and high crime rates.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast executive Sam Ikwaye said the decision will assist in the restoration of Lamu that was once a tourist hub in the region.
Ikwaye said the decision was long overdue citing the declining cases of terrorist attacks in Lamu.
“The decision will be a major boost to the tourism sector as such advisories had hurt business owing to the negative effects. We remain optimistic,” said Ikwaye.
Heritage Hotels CEO Mohammed Hersi commended the British government and urged the U.S. to also lift the non essential travel advisory in Lamu.
“It was one long painful wait for Lamu. It will let us now pick the pieces and promote Lamu once again. The island was never affected by terror attacks hence the advisory was misplaced,” Hersi said.
Lamu County has previously had a series of attacks targeted on non-Muslims in what the police boss said is a mission to divide Kenyans along religious lines.
More than 100 people were killed in a series of attacks in Mpeketoni area, within the County by the militants in 2014.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said Britons are free to visit any national park, reserve and wildlife conservancies in the country.
The country, however, in its notice on Thursday advised against travel to Manda or Lamu Islands by road.
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office no longer advise against travel to Lamu Island and Manda. If you travel to Lamu Island or Manda you should do so by air and not by road,” it said in its advisory on Thursday.
Among areas British tourists are allowed to visit include the Aberdare National Park, Amboseli, Laikipia, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, Meru and Mount Kenya.
UK tourists are also allowed to sample attractions in Samburu, Shimba Hills, and Tsavo as well as book reservations at beach resorts in Mombasa, Malindi, Kilifi, Watamu, and Diani.
Britain is concerned about threats from terrorism, especially from extremists linked to Al-Shabaab who are against the country’s military operation in Somalia.
In January, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala asked the U.S. government to lift the travel advisory it issued to its citizens against visiting Kenya.
Balala said such advisories were unjustified, citing the reduction of terrorist attacks in the region.