East African countries in fresh UK travel warning list

Wednesday November 11 2015

Local tourists at a deserted public beach in Mombasa as foreign tourists kept off following travel advisories. Photo/KEVIN ODIT

Local tourists at a deserted public beach in Mombasa as foreign tourists kept off following travel advisories. FILE | PHOTO NATION MEDIA

By SCOLA KAMAU, TEA Special Correspondent

The United Kingdom has issued fresh travel warning to its citizens, citing security concerns in 53 countries among them three East African countries.

Kenya and Uganda are ranked in the partly unsafe category with Ethiopia, Egypt, India, Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malaysia and Sudan.

Countries categorised as wholly unsafe and most dangerous for British tourists include Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, among others.

This implies that in the region, only Rwanda and Tanzania are considered safe for UK visitors.

According to Edward Bergman, the African Travel Association executive director, security advisories always affect the number of visitors and investors into the specific regions, punishing an entire economy.

UK is a leading tourists’ market source to the east African region and advisories are seen eating into the share. According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data, visitors to Kenya from the UK fell almost in half from 498,000 in 2013 to 275,000 in 2014.

“Any investor or tourist will not be confident to visit or invest in a negatively marked country, any travel advisory should probably caution on specific areas and not last for long as in the present cases,” said Mr Bergman in the sidelines of the ongoing ATA Annual World Congress in Nairobi.

The UK advisory comes on the heels of a Russian commercial plane crash in Sinai, Egypt, killing all the 224 passengers on board on October 31. The plane was flying from Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and destined for the Russian city of St Petersburg.

The UK has since halted flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh, citing intelligence concerns.

In eastern Africa, Burundi’s unrest has come under international scrutiny with pressure being mounted on the country’s President-Pierre Nkurunziza to step aside and pave for fair elections. President Nkurunziza extended his reign to a third term, going against an agreement signed in 2005 after the civil war.

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