EXODUS OF TOURISTS FROM KENYA COAST AFTER LAMU KIDNAPPINGS. BY MURIMI MUTIGA. OCTOBER 04, 2011. MOMBASA.
Hotels and other tourists facilities in Kenya's Lamu island have recorded massive cancellation of bookings following the kidnapping of two foreigners at the archipelago.
Investors in the industry said today the attacks have caused panic and many hotels have witnessed exodus of tourists since Saturday when a a 66 year old French elderly woman was abducted from a villa at Ras- Kitau.
The hoteliers said the abduction has the potential to deal severe damage to the country's tourism industry after France and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued travel advisory to its citizens travelling to areas near Kenya-Somali boarders.
Two leading hoteliers Dalio Bani of Romantic hotels and Abdulrahman Alawy of Bush hotels said they have received numerous booking cancellations following the twin attacks.
The two however are optimistic that with the security measure announced by the Kenya government on Monday, the sector is likely to recover quickly.
But despite the attacks, few tourists are still coming in ignoring the advisories.
A group of tourists from Canada who left the island today said they were in Lamu during the day of the French woman attack and never got scared.
The tourists said they would still come back to enjoy the hospitality of Kenyans.
The tourists, Teddy Shak, Brian Naftali and Roselyn Mcrae all from Toronto described the attack as an isolated and unfortunate incidents that would not spoil their holiday and are happy with security arrangements in the island.
The visitor said they were unhappy that their holiday has ended but urged Kenya government to beef up security to avoid occurrence of such attacks in future.
Kenya Police chief Mathew Iteere and tourism minister Najib Balala who visited Lamu archipelago late on Monday announced that the government would deliver more boats and police vehicles for security patrols in the area and deploy police officers in all hotels in Coast region.
France and UK have advised their citizens against all but essential travel to coastal areas within 150 km of the Somali border, following two attacks by armed gangs in small boats against beach resorts in the Lamu area on 11 September and 1 October 2011.
The Mada island attack is the second kidnapping near the popular tourist town of Lamu in a month.
The gunmen who are suspected to be members of the Somali Al-Shabaab militias shot a British man and kidnapped his wife, Judith Tebbutt, from a hotel at Kiwayu just fear kilometers from Lamu island three weeks ago.
David Tebbutt was shot and killed in the attack while resisting the invasion.
The authorities in Kenya have urged hoteliers in the island not to closed down their facilities despite mass exodus of tourists and cancellation of booking as they would help the industry to recover quickly through an aggressive marketing.
The tourism minister and the police chief who met hoteliers said the government would devoted part of it budget to market Lamu again.