Somali attacks hurting Kenya economy

2011-10-19 20:27
Nairobi - The Kenyan government sent troops into Somalia to search for people kidnapped by Somali gunmen and to push Islamist militants away from Kenya's tourist destinations, the country's tourism minister said.

Najib Balala told The Associated Press that the army's pursuit of Islamist militants was necessary because they were creating instability in the country and affecting the economy.

As a result of a spate of kidnappings in Kenya by Somalia gunmen, Kenya had to revise its marketing strategy to attract tourists. Kenya hoped to earn $1bn in tourism income this year, Balala said.

Somali gunmen have kidnapped four Europeans in the last six weeks - two from the Lamu coastal region and two from the Dadaab refugee camp. The French government said on Wednesday that the French woman who was taken died in militant custody in Somalia.

Balala said late on Tuesday that the Kenyan government was responding to the attacks.

"Security has been upped in the country and we made sure that we don't entertain any unscrupulous characters in our country," Balala said.

Kenya on Sunday sent columns of troops into Somalia in search of al-Shabaab militants. The government has blamed al-Shabaab for the kidnappings though analysts doubt that claim.

Al-Shabaab itself has denied taking part in the abductions.

Tourism hit

Whoever carried them out, the attacks have already taken a severe toll on Kenya's tourism industry, the country's third-biggest foreign exchange earner last year.

Balala said he is optimistic that the country's tourism will continue the rebound that it's made after being brought to a near standstill during the country's postelection violence in late 2007 and early 2008.

Tourism revenues last year exceeded $900m.

Hugh Regg, a tourist from Australia, visited one of Nairobi's most popular sites on Wednesday, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where visitors can watch orphaned baby elephants being hand-fed by bottle.

Regg said he was a (little) nervous before arriving in Kenya because of the recent news, but hasn't had any negative experiences.

"I found the place to be friendly. The people have been very, very nice and sure there's issues like anywhere in the world but I have not experienced that," he said.

"What is happening up on the Somali border is obviously pretty serious and I read in today's paper that they are doing something about it which is good."

Despite the renewed security concerns, the country is expected to receive new visitors from non-traditional markets of Russia and Scandinavian countries, Balala said.

Security beefed up

A new threat to Kenya emerged on Monday, when al-Shabaab militants inside Somalia threatened to level Kenyan skyscrapers and carry out suicide bomb attacks like ones that killed 76 people in Kampala, Uganda in July 2010.

"Definitely we are not taking these threats lightly but we know they do not have the capacity to do a lot of this talk that they have talked," Balala said.

Kenyan police this week sent out a terrorist attack warning and increased security at some downtown sites, including Nairobi's Somali neighbourhood.

Balala said that despite the coastal attacks, Western vacationers are altering their vacation plans, not cancelling them.

"There is concern... but we haven't received cancellations. We have received relocations from Lamu to other areas in Kenya and that is acceptable but there haven't been major cancellations," he said.

He said travel advisories by the US, UK and French governments warning their citizens against travel to coastal areas close to the border with Somalia should be removed because they are harming the tourism industry.

He noted that tourism revenue helps Kenya to fight poverty and increase education, health care and security.

"Yes these incidents happened. The government was very swift in taking action and now security is beefed up," he said.

"I can assure everybody Lamu is safe, Kenya is safe," he added.

"It is unfortunate this has happened, it has tainted our image, too bad. But I believe people who know Kenya, trust me, Kenya is a safe destination."


- AP
Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  najib balala  |  kenya  |  east africa  |  security
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!
This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!
This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.