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Is the West sabotaging Kenyatta presidency?

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 Former US assistant secretary of state for African affairs and ambassador to Kenya, Johnnie Carson, last year warned Kenyans to elect their leaders wisely, saying “choices have consequences.” Photo/FILE

Former US assistant secretary of state for African affairs and ambassador to Kenya, Johnnie Carson, last year warned Kenyans to elect their leaders wisely, saying “choices have consequences.” Photo/FILE 

By JEFF OTIENO, The EastAfrican

Posted  Monday, May 26   2014 at  13:27

In Summary

  • Tourism players ask president to send delegation to Britain and other Western countries to argue their case.
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Is the West out to sabotage Kenya through travel advisories, guided by the icy relations between the Jubilee government and some of the leaders in Europe and America?

Following the evacuation of more than 200 tourists from Mombasa after the enhancement of travel advisories by Britain, France, the United States and Australia, some industry stakeholders now believe so.

It is an action that investors in the industry say has never happened before, even in 2003 when some Western countries issued travel alerts and British Airways cancelled flights to Kenya over terrorism fears.

They believe that some recent events and remarks best explain why Western countries have taken a hard stance on Kenya citing terror.

Tourism players who spoke to The EastAfrican said the industry had lost more than Ksh5 billion ($58.1 million) in less than a week as a result of the evacuations, adding that the sector was headed for even tougher times.

The investors are now asking the Uhuru government to urgently meet Western envoys and iron out any differences between them to revive the strong and suspicion-free relations of before and stem the collapse of the sector.

“We ask the president to hold frank and fair discussions with the representatives of these countries,” the Kilifi County chairman of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers, Philip Chai, said.

“Even if it means sending a high-powered delegation to Britain and other Western countries to argue our case, we should do it.

“There is something more to these travel advisories than just security concerns.”

Mr Chai added that it was common knowledge that relations between Kenya and the West have been strained ever since the Jubilee Coalition came to power, saying there is a need to rectify the situation given the importance of Europe and America to Kenya’s tourism.

Out of the 1.3 million visitors to the country in 2013, as many as 786,100 were from Europe and 156,600 from North America, proof that the two continents play a major role in sustaining Kenya’s tourism industry.

Economic sabotage

The sentiments were echoed by Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association official Millicent Odhiambo, who said evacuating people in the middle of the night and putting them into buses and chartered planes back to their homeland amounted to economic sabotage.

“Such actions are only taken when a country is at war, and Kenya is not at war,” she said.

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