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Kenya Discord Causes Little Safari DisruptionJanuary 3, 2008 By: Travel Agent Central Contributor Travel Agent
Tour operators to Kenya have reported little or no disruption in their itineraries despite the turmoil that has arisen over the results of last Thursday's general election. More than 300 people have been killed in the country since the election-related violence began, according to published reports.
Abercrombie & Kent reported that it has "thousands of international visitors in Kenya right now who are continuing with their safari and beach holidays without a problem," according to Peter Ngori, managing director of A&K's Nairobi office.
Micato Safaris told Travel Agent it has not had to alter itineraries since most of its clients are already full ensconced on safari in the bush, said Emily Baldwin, spokesperson for Micato. "We did have one group that we flew out into the bush a day early rather than keep them in Nairobi, but we really have had a negligible amount of cancellations and changes. People realize this is not marked at tourists in any way. It's a difficult and sad situation for those who are affected, but it's in isolated pockets on the outskirts of town. All of the hotels are operating, public transportation is working and all the flights internally and internationally are operating."
African Travel, meanwhile, said it is closely monitoring the political unrest in Kenya through contact with its travelers and through the company's offices in Kenya. Director Dave Herbert says the company does not feel it necessary to cancel any tours, but will fully cooperate with any clients who decide to cancel their Kenya arrangements this month. Additionally, according to Herbert, "the company will not be taking new bookings to Kenya for near-term departures until we are confident that everything has returned to normal."
The Kenya Tourist Board provided the following update late Wednesday afternoon: "The disturbances that took place in Nairobi were quelled by January 1. They took place in areas not normally visited by tourists and were contained specifically to various high-density, low-income housing areas. Businesses had reopened as of January 2, 2008, and people were back to work around the country. The situation in the main cities of Nairobi and Mombasa is quickly coming back to normal with shops, banks and businesses reopening after the New Year public holiday.
"The main scheduled international carriers into Nairobi for the North American market--Kenya Airways, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Emirates-- continue to operate their daily scheduled services. Kenya Airways has reported extremely minimal cancellations for travelers to the country. It did have minimal changes for a very small group of individual travelers, but cancellations have not been an issue at all to date," the tourist board statement said. "Domestic carriers continue to operate full scheduled services within Kenya, including Kenya Airways, Air Kenya and Safarilink. Kenya Airways has reinstated its service between Nairobi and Kisumu.
"There is a strong police presence along all the main roads and highways between the airports and the city hotels, and as a result, traffic is moving along these routes without a problem. The main roads and highways linking Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Wilson Airport and the Nairobi city hotels are also all secured and tourist vehicles are able to be driven along these routes as normal.
"The situation is similar in Mombasa, and the roads are clear. The Tourist Police Unit [TPU] in Mombasa is providing an escort service between the hotels and the airport in a convoy for ease of logistics. The Likoni ferry used by visitors to the south coast is operating normally.
"Safaris to the main game parks continue to operate as normal both by air and by road. TPU is also available to assist tour operators and hoteliers as the need may arise. No security problems have been reported in any of the parks or reserves."
A security focus will be on Nairobi today, January 3 as the opposition party has called for a peaceful rally to take place in the city's Uhuru Park
The U.S. State Department has updated information on its web site for Americans traveling to Kenya. Visit www.travel.state.gov