The European Union has given Kenya’s tourism sector a major shot in the arm after asking its citizens to visit Kenya despite last week’s terrorist attack at the 14 Riverside business complex.
None of the EU member countries has issued a travel advisory against the country following last Tuesday’s Al-Shabaab strike.
This is unlike in the past when swift travel advisories following similar attacks left the multi-billion shilling tourism industry on its knees.
The EU block is the biggest source of Kenya’s foreign tourists and investments.
First Counselor in the EU delegation to Kenya Walter Tretton Monday said Kenyan security agencies’ rapid response to last week’s attack had proved their capabilities to handle the militants.
The handling of the siege, Mr Tretton said, should offer EU nationals an assurance of safety when visiting the country.
Security agencies responding to the terror attack received widespread praise for their efforts that led to the rescue of rescue of more than 700 people.
“Terrorism is a global problem and even nations in the EU have been targeted. Kenyan security forces responded very well and proved their capability in handling terror attacks. We are confident that the country is safe,” said Mr Tretton.
He in turn lauded Kenya for not issuing advisories against European nations that were attacked in previous years.
“Kenya did not issue advisories during attacks in EU member states like in Paris or Brussels. Same way we express confidence in Kenya and continue to give our support,” said Mr Tretton.
He was speaking at Sirimon Gate of Mt Kenya in Meru County on Monday during the inauguration of two national park roads.
Following the attack that left 21 dead there was concern about how foreign nations would view the security situation but Kenya was spared fresh travel advisories, much to the relief of the tourism industry that contributed Sh157 billion to Kenya’s economy last year.
Caution for vigilance
The US State Department did not restrict its nationals from travelling to Kenya, but cautioned them to be vigilant while in the country.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) also issued a similar alert, but said its citizens were free to visit Kenya’s safari destinations in the national parks, reserves and wildlife conservancies as well as beach resorts.
Past attacks like the 2013 Westgate Mall attack prompted foreign countries led by the US and UK to issue travel advisories that cut travel and hurt tourism.
The EU has this time, however, expressed confidence in Kenya’s counter-terrorism measures.