British government advises against non-essential travel to Kenya

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

The British Foreign Office is advising Britons against all but essential travel to Kenya because of the violence following the disputed presidential elections. The warning and the violence are heavily affecting Kenya's tourism industry, which relies heavily on European tourists escaping the winter cold.

The travel warning recommends that those already in Kenya stay indoors and exercise extreme caution and seek advice locally either from their tour operator or the local authorities if they want to travel. The Foreign Office also warns against attending political gatherings and large public meetings.

This decision comes at the same time as widespread violence in the country and calls for an investigation into the vote results, after suspicion over vote rigging by the government.

Tour operators in the United Kingdom have suspended holiday packages to Kenya until the situation there improves. Two holiday companies are thought to be flying out empty planes to the country, to bring back British residents from the country.

The Association of British Travel Associations, an umbrella body for travel agents says about four hundred tourists who had been scheduled to fly to Kenya have postponed their trips. Sean Tipton is a spokesperson for the association.

"Clearly holidays can't count as essential travel, because of that British tour operators have two flights one going out on Friday and another one on Saturday both those flights will still be going, but they will be flying out empty," he said. "They won't be taking any more customers out to Kenya. The reason they are being sent is they were due to return people to the UK. There is another charter flight which should go out on Monday at the moment that's still scheduled to go because the advice to Kenya is changing very rapidly, but if the Foreign Office is still advising against all but essential travel, that flight will also be cancelled."

Another umbrella body, the Federation of Tour Operators also announced the suspension of holiday trips to Kenya with departures due up to Saturday January 5th.

In a statement it said the situation is being reviewed daily and any changes to departures planned after 5 January will be made over the coming days.

Media reports say there are about 6,000 British citizens currently travelling in Kenya.