Saturday, 24 March 2012

Kenya Requests UK to Lift Travel Advisory

TOURISM minister wants the United Kingdom to lift a travel advisory on Kenya by its citizens after Judith Tebbutt was released by her abductors on Wednesday. Tebbutt, a Briton, was abducted seven months ago from a beach resort in Lamu and taken to Somalia. Her husband was shot dead in the process.

She was reportedly released after a Sh99 million ransom was paid to a Somali militia, believed to be the al Shaabab, by her family. The British government imposed a travel advisory on Kenya describing the country as "unsafe". The Minister has since then been advocating for the lift of the ban, saying the unfortunate events that led to the abduction of Tebbutt are isolated.

On Wednesday, he said the UK travel advisory is not in line with a poverty eradication programmes put in place by Kenya in partnership with other countries, including the UK. "The British High Commission should lift the travel ban on Lamu. The ban is not helping in the eradication of poverty in Kenya," said Balala at a hotel in Mombasa. He was in the company of Cabinet ministers George Saitoti, Franklin Bett, James Orengo, Musa Sirma and Amos Kiunya who were in Mombasa to seek solutions to the port congestion problems.

The advisory heavily hurt the economy of Lamu which heavily depends on tourism, leading to protests by investors over the loss of revenue and jobs. Balala, who is the chairman of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Executive Council, is on record saying the UK and other countries' advisories forced the government to embark on a costly marketing programme to reassure tourists of their safety when in Kenya.

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