Thursday, 5 July 2012

U.S. Travel Advisory 'Hurts' Tanzania Tourism

 The recent travel advisory, issued by the US embassy in Kenya warning its citizens against visiting the country's coastal towns and tourism hub of Mombasa among other areas, is reported to be affecting Tanzania as well.
The Chairman of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, Mr Leopold Kabendera, pointed out that to most foreigners Africa seems to be a single state and when the US warned of terror attacks in Mombasa, tourists will believe that Tanzania is also not safe.
"And, especially because Mombasa is quite near and shares the same 'East African' vicinity tag, the advisory will badly hit the just starting tourism season in Tanzania," stated Mr Kabendera who is also the vice-chairman of the Confederation of the Tourism Industry in Tanzania.
Earlier on, the Principal Tourism Officer with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, Mr Asantael Melita expressed concern regarding travel advisories issued by overseas countries or their related embassies without taking into consideration how harmful they can be to local countries' economies.
Tanzania recorded over 960,000 tourists last year and the country was intending to surpass the 1 million tourists' traffic mark this year, but following the recent "Mombasa" advisory and the ongoing "Al-Shabaab" bombings in Kenya, experts here fear the worst.
The Kenyan Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Mutinda Mutiso, who was recently here stated that the Mombasa advisory was wrongly issued adding that the deadly mistake culminated in the resignation of the former US envoy to Kenya, Mr Scott Gration.
"It was very unfair for US to issue such warning which is very damaging," said Mr Mutiso, adding that it was always the norm for larger economies to try and crush efforts by lesser countries to make ends meet. "And that is why the person who raised the 'cry-wolf' alarm eventually resigned," added the Kenyan envoy assuring that despite reports of attacks in Kenya, the country as well as the rest of East Africa was still a safe haven for tourists.
The US ambassador to Kenya resigned last Friday after serving the post for just over a year, citing differences with Washington.
Scott Gration's departure came a week after the US embassy warned of a threat of an imminent militant attack in the port city of Mombasa, angering the Kenyan government which said the advisory amounted to "economic sabotage".
A week ago, the US embassy in Kenya warned terrorists attack threats on the Kenyan port of Mombasa asking all its government workers to vacate the town promptly. The US officials' advisory also warned Americans not to travel to the Kenyan coastal city, a popular tourist destination fearing planned attacks there. France reportedly also warned its citizens to be "extremely careful" in Mombasa. Both Mombasa and Nairobi, the two most important Kenyan cities, have suffered a series of grenade attacks since Kenya sent troops into Somalia to battle the Islamist group al-Shabab.

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