Kenya tourism faces a crisis after the abduction of a second foreigner by suspected pirates from neighbouring Somalia in less than a month.
British travellers have been warned away from coastal regions within 150km of the Somali border.
The change to travel advice was issued by the Foreign Office after the weekend kidnapping of a 66 year old disabled French woman Marie DeDieu on Kenya’s northern resort island of Manda.
The kidnap comes three weeks after a UK couple were attacked further north. Gunmen shot dead husband David Tebbutt and kidnapped his wife Judith in Kiwayu. She was taken across the border to Somalia.
The FCO previously advised against all but essential travel to coastal areas within 60km of the border with Somalia.
“We advise against all but essential travel to coastal areas within 150km of the Somali border following two attacks by armed gangs in small boats against beach resorts in the Lamu area on September 11 and October 1,” the FCO said. “This advice will be kept under review.
“Both attacks were on beach-front accommodation in that area and boast off the coast are vulnerable.”
The Kenyan government confirmed that the French woman was abducted by two gunmen from a private house in the early hours of Saturday morning before fleeing in a speedboat into international waters.
But tourism minister Najib Balala sought to limit the damage on the country’s wider tourism industry.
“We wish to point out to all our international visitors and our friends in the travel trade that the recent despicable acts of Somali pirates have only affected a small part of our territory,” he said.
“A glance at the map will show that these events have occurred hundreds of kilometres away from the coastal and inland destinations which are so popular with the majority of our visitors.
“With the small exception of the northern coast none of our visitor destinations are in any way affected by the changes in some country’s travel advisories.
“Tourism, being an important sector within Kenya’s economy and a major employer, the government will spare no efforts to ensure that our visitors enjoy their holidays and stay in Kenya without any apprehension.”
He added that authorities were working closely with British, French and international authorities to ensure that acts of piracy by Somali nationals are stopped and that hostages are released.
“It has been widely acknowledged today that the containment of the long term problems of Somalia within that country’s borders has become a major international problem,” added Balala.
“Kenya, working closely with its allies and the United Nations, is doing everything within its power to ensure that the effects of the blight and unrest, which have affected Somalia for so long, does not further encroach across Kenyan borders either by land or sea.”
The Kenya Tourism Federation pledged to enhance security at coastal hotels and resorts.
“We will be collaborating closely with government to identify ways and means of improving visitor safety at the various accommodation facilities,” a statement said.
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