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KENYA TRAVEL UPDATE - ARCHIVE - 2nd Jan 08 - 16th Jan 08

Wednesday 16th January 2008: Security Update: 6.00 p.m.



Yesterday saw the opening of the Kenya Parliament after the elections and this took place without any public disturbance. There was a strong police presence around parliament to ensure there was no disorder and the authorities decided not to close the Uhuru Highway so tourist traffic continued as normal past Parliament for airport transfers and for safaris departing or driving through Nairobi.

In Parliament it was noteworthy that the opposition had a majority: 105 seats to 102. This means the opposition should now be able to pursue their interests in Parliament rather than on the streets.

The main opposition party, ODM, had announced that they would hold rallies in different parts of the country today and on Thursday and Friday this week but issued assurances that that these are intended to be peaceful.

In Nairobi and in Mombasa today a number of separate groups of peaceful protesters attempted to assemble in different parts of both cities in response to the call for rallies. The police fired tear gas canisters and chased the marchers away. They attempted to re-group but were quickly dispersed after several minor skirmishes with the police and with no reports of any serious violence taking place. There were no reports of live ammunition being fired.

It is reported that a much more serious demonstration took place this afternoon in the Kibera slum in Nairobi where violent confrontations took place between large crowds of demonstrators and police. Live ammunition was fired and tear gas was used by the police who prevented the violent protests from spreading beyond Kibera. There were unconfirmed reports that three people were shot and injured.

In Kisumu it is reported that there were also violent confrontations between police and large crowds of demonstrators which were dispersed by the police using tear gas and firing live bullets into the air but at this stage we do not have further details although there are unconfirmed reports that two people were killed. In Eldoret demonstrators are reported to have been dispersed by police without violence or injuries. It should be noted that the Kisumu-Kericho-Eldoret area is considered off-limits for tourists and is being avoided by tour operators.

The security situation continues as before with no tourists affected at the beach resorts, in the international Nairobi hotels or in the wildlife parks and any violent confrontations between protesters and police confined to the slums and to places in Western Kenya far away from the areas currently visited by tourists.

Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourism Federation



Wednesday 16th January 2008: Security Update: 4.30 p.m.



Yesterday saw the opening of the Kenya Parliament after the elections and this took place without any public disturbance. There was a strong police presence around parliament to ensure there was no disorder and the authorities decided not to close the Uhuru Highway so tourist traffic continued as normal past Parliament for airport transfers and for safaris departing or driving through Nairobi.

The peaceful re-opening of Parliament is another positive step towards having travel advisories revised by the international governments who have imposed warnings against travel to Kenya.

In Parliament it was noteworthy that the opposition had a majority: 105 seats to 102. This means the opposition should now be able to pursue their interests in Parliament rather than on the streets and we are all hopeful that the calm that has prevailed for over a week now will continue.

It is encouraging to see two positive comments from the leadership on opposite sides of the political divide quoted by the BBC today:

The opposition: ODM MP Najib Balala told the BBC's Network Africa programme: "We want to prove to the world we are not going to act in an uncivilised way, we are going to parliament, we are going to show that we are controlling parliament."

The government: Justice Minister Martha Karua told the BBC she believed cooler heads would prevail. "We are ready to navigate through a hung parliament through persuasion, through negotiations. We expect that eventually everybody will come to their senses, realise that we've got to learn to live with each other."

The main opposition party, ODM, had announced that they would hold rallies in different parts of the country today and on Thursday and Friday this week but issued assurances that that these are intended to be peaceful.

In both Nairobi and in Mombasa today several small groups attempted to assemble in different parts of both cities in response to the call for rallies but were quickly dispersed after minor skirmishes with the police and with no reports of any violence taking place. It is reported that a more serious demonstration took place in the Kibera slum in Nairobi but this was prevented from spreading beyond Kibera by the police.

In Kisumu it is reported that there were violent confrontations between police and demonstrators which were dispersed by the police but at this stage we do not have further details. In Eldoret demonstrators are reported to have been dispersed by police. It should be noted that the Kisumu-Kericho-Eldoret area is considered off-limits for tourists and is being avoided by tour operators.

The security situation continues as before with no tourists affected at the beach resorts, in the international Nairobi hotels or in the wildlife parks and any violent confrontations between protesters and police confined to the slums and to places in Western Kenya far away from the areas currently visited by tourists.

Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourism Federation


Tuesday 15th January 2008: Security Update: 5.00 p.m.



The situation in Nairobi and Mombasa was normal today, with no problems or incidents affecting tourists reported today as at 5 pm this afternoon.

In Nairobi, Parliament re-opened and is currently in session. Although there was a heavy police presence around Parliament, the authorities decided not to close the Uhuru Highway so tourist traffic continued as normal for airport transfers and for safaris departing or driving through Nairobi.

There were no reports of any problems in any of the wildlife reserves and national parks or on the access routes to and from these areas.

The main opposition party, ODM, has confirmed that they will hold rallies in different parts of the country tomorrow and on Thursday and Friday this week but have issued assurances that that these are intended to be peaceful. The government has banned these rallies and it is likely that the police will be present to disperse any crowds.

The Kenya Tourism Federation will be monitoring the situation and will advise all members of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators if detours need to be made to avoid taking tourists near any areas where demonstrations or rallies are taking place.

Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourism Federation



Monday 14th January 2008: Security Update: 3.00 p.m.



Yesterday was another calm and normal day in Nairobi and Mombasa with no problems or incidents reported. Once again there were no reports of any insecurity or problems affecting tourists in any of Kenya’s parks and reserves or on any of the roads connecting them.

Today continues to be a normal day in Nairobi, Mombasa and the wildlife parks and reserves with no reports of any problems in any of these areas or the connecting roads.

Schools re-opened throughout most of Kenya today – a further indication of normality returning.

Parliament will be opening tomorrow and there may be some closures of roads during the ceremony while a strengthened police presence is to be expected. The Kenya Tourism Federation will be monitoring the situation tomorrow in order to keep local tour operators informed in case detours are required to avoid delays for clients on airport transfers.

In view of the continuing calm in the areas frequented by tourists, we hope that those governments which placed blanket travel advisories on Kenya will be revising them without further delay and we have received some positive indications that, if the present situation of calm is maintained, then the advisories will be re-worded.

The US government has not placed a “non-essential travel” warning on the whole of Kenya but has indicated those places to be avoided (in the Kisumu-Kericho-Eldoret areas) and it is to be hoped that the other countries will follow this approach.

Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourism Federation



Saturday 12 January 2008: Security Update 10.00 p.m.



Today was another normal day in Nairobi and Mombasa with no problems or incidents reported.

There were no reports of any insecurity or problems affecting tourists in any of Kenya’s parks and reserves or on any of the roads connecting them.

There were no reports today of any demonstrations or violent disturbances elsewhere in the country but inter-ethnic tensions remain in the area around Kericho in the Western corner of Kenya, which on the advice of the Kenya Tourism Federation remains off-limits to tourists.

The main opposition party has confirmed that they will hold rallies in different parts of the country on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week but have issued assurances that that these are intended to be peaceful.

Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourism Federation



Friday 11 January 2008: Security Update 10.30 p.m.



Today was another entirely normal day in Nairobi and Mombasa with no problems or incidents reported. There were also no reports of any incidents or problems affecting tourists in any of Kenya’s parks and reserves or on any of the roads connecting them.

There were no reports today of any demonstrations or violent disturbances elsewhere in the country.

Talks between the government and the opposition have not been held today as originally planned but both sides confirmed their call to all their supporters to shun violence and to be committed to maintaining peace.

Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, is expected to arrive in Nairobi next week to assist in seeking a reconciliation between the two parties. Parliament will be opened on Tuesday. The opposition have announced that they will hold peaceful rallies in different parts of the country on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Tour operators will ensure that tourist vehicles avoid any rallies and demonstrations but the organisers have stressed that these are intended to be peaceful assemblies.

Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourism Federation



Thursday 10 January 2008: Security Update 5.30 p.m.


Once again in Nairobi and Mombasa all is quiet and there has been no change to the situation of calm which has prevailed all week. 
 
All roads between airports and hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa are open and traffic is flowing as normal. All safari departures took place as usual with no problems reported on any of the roads to the parks and reserves. In Mombasa, City tours are operating once again.
 
In Nairobi, it was reported that a procession of women heading for a prayer meeting at a church near the Hurlingham area were forced to disperse by police as marches, demonstrations and rallies are not permitted at present. This did not result in any serious disturbance or disruption.
 
There were no reports of any incidents or problems affecting tourists in any of Kenya’s parks and reserves or on any of the roads connecting them.
 
There are no reports of any demonstrations in Kisumu today but the advice of the Kenya Tourism Federation is that the Kisumu-Kericho-Eldoret areas should continue to be off-limits for tourists for the time being.

Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourism Federation



Wednesday 9 January 2008: Security Update 11.00 a.m.


Following the Presidential announcement of the appointment of cabinet ministers yesterday evening there were some concerns that there might be protests and public demonstrations from opposition supporters. However in Nairobi and Mombasa all is quiet and there has been no change to the situation of calm which has prevailed for the last few days. There have been no reports of any protests or disturbances in Narobi or Mombasa and all roads between airports and hotels are open and traffic is flowing as normal. All safari departures took place as usual with no problems reported on any of the roads to the parks and reserves.

There are reports that there were some demonstrations in Kisumu last night but currently the Kisumu-Kericho-Eldoret areas are off-limits for tourists so no visitors are affected.

It is expected that discussions will be taking place between the political leaders over the next few days to attempt to end the political differences. The President of the African Union arrived yesterday to meet both sides in an attempt to assist in settling the differences. Parliament reopens on Tuesday next week and the country is moving back to normality.

A serious issue of concern is the need to support the displaced persons who are being cared for in Red Cross Camps until they can return to their homes or be re-housed. The tourism sector is joining with the business fraternity to provide financial contributions to buy and transport food. There is no food or fuel shortage within Kenya but there have been transport and distribution problems which are now being resolved.

Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourism Federation



Tuesday 8 January 2008: Security Update 7p.m.


Nairobi
Throughout the day the situation in Nairobi was completely normal, with public transport operating and all offices and banks open as usual.
There were no problems for any tourist vehicles driving through the city and all transfers to and from the airport and to the Nairobi hotels operated as normal.

Mombasa
Once again all was back to normal and there were no problems affecting tourists in any of the beach resorts or in Mombasa. All transfers and safaris continue to operate as normal from Mombasa. The British consular representative on the Mombasa south coast has written to express his appreciation of the work of the Tourist Police Unit over the last few days in helping to ensure good security for tourist visitors at the coast.

Parks and Reserves
There were no reports of any problems anywhere in the parks, reserves or tourist routes. All national parks and reserves may be visited by road or air as normal. The daily scheduled services linking all the parks continue to operate as normal.

Western Kenya
Once again there were no reports of any problems in Western Kenya today. However we continue to recommend that the areas around Eldoret, Kericho, Kakamega and Kisumu should remain off-limits to tourists for the time being. However these are not areas normally visited by tourists as part of their safari itinerary. Kenya Airways continue to operate scheduled flights to Kisumu and have also operated a number of ad hoc flights to Eldoret during the last few days.

During the last 24 hrs the German security advisory has been toned down and it is anticipated that other countries will be amending their travel advisories shortly to reflect the fact that calm has been restored.

Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourism Federation



Monday 7 January 2008: Security Update


Nairobi
Once again there were no security problems at all in Nairobi and it was a normal Monday with busy traffic in the city centre and all offices and banks open as usual.

There were no problems for any tourist vehicles driving through the city, no delays, and all transfers to and from the airport and to the Nairobi hotels operated as normal.

Mombasa
Everything is back to normal and there were no problems affecting tourists in any of the beach resorts or in Mombasa. The Likoni ferries are in operation as normal. Some tour operators have now re-introduced City Tours once again into Mombasa and all safaris and excursions out of Mombasa continue as usual. There have been no crowds or demonstrations apart from a small group of youths attempting to hold a peaceful procession at 11 am but who were dispersed by police without any violent confrontation. All transfers and safaris continue to operate as normal from Mombasa.

Parks and Reserves
There were no reports of any problems anywhere in the parks, reserves or tourist routes. All national parks and reserves may be visited by road or air as normal. The daily scheduled services linking all the parks continue to operate as normal.

Western Kenya
Although there were no reports of any problems in Western Kenya today, we recommend that the areas beyond Nakuru to Eldoret, Kericho, Kakamega and Kisumu continue to remain off-limits to tourists for the time being. However these are not areas normally visited by tourists as part of their safari itinerary. Kenya Airways continue to operate flights to Kisumu and have added a daily service to Eldoret.

Overall there is a feeling that things are quickly getting back to normal and calm has been restored.

There is now increased attention being given to people who were displaced by the unrest a week ago. The tourism industry is joining other organisations in supporting the Kenya Red Cross in providing food and shelter – details will be provided shortly. There are adequate stocks of food and fuel in Kenya and transport services have resumed so that deliveries are being made to areas where supplies had been disrupted.

The large rallies planned for tomorrow have been cancelled and the political parties now appear to be moving towards negotiation to try to resolve the current political crisis.

Throughout the period of civil unrest and even at the height of the problems when there was continual footage of riots on TV, no tourists were harmed in any way in spite of over 30,000 international tourists being in Kenya.

The tourism industry ensured that there was close liaison and communication 24 hrs a day to avoid tourists being endangered. Now it appears that tensions are being calmed and that normality has returned.

It is vital that travel advisories are softened to allow tourists to visit Kenya to avoid a collapse of tourism which would have a massive negative impact on the economy and the thousands of Kenyans earning a livelihood from tourism. It would be ironic if tourists stopped coming just as the situation returned to normal whereas all hotels were running full when the violent civil unrest took place immediately after the elections.

Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Tourism Federation



Sunday 6 January 2008: Update 11.45 a.m.


Nairobi:
Last night was quiet in all areas and there are no reports of any incidents in any of the housing estates.
Early morning airport transfers and safari departures all went off well.
This morning all was calm in Nairobi city centre and roads past Uhuru park, and to the airports all open and traffic flowing as normal. There is a continued police presence along the highways. Some tourist vehicles took the opportunity of the calm and quiet Sunday morning to provide a city tour to tourists en route to the airport as they asked to see the city centre.

Mombasa:
Mombasa also had a peaceful night. KTF executive committee member, Khalid Shapi reports that he drove across the island and all round Mombasa to assess the situation this morning and all roads were open and life has returned to normal with residents walking peacefully on the streets and no problems.
All tourist transfers took place without any problems and all safaris departed as scheduled. Excursions are operating as normal with daytrips to Kisite Marine National Park, Wasini Island and Shimba Hills Game Reserve.

Upcountry:
No problems reported from any of the parks or reserves and all road safaris are operating as normal while air safaris from Wilson to all scheduled stops continue operating today as normal.

Hotels, lodges and camps in all the well-known parks and reserves are all operating as normal. Guests staying at Baringo Island Camp report they had a good stay, were content with all services and reports indicate that the road from Nakuru to Baringo is open and can be traversed without any problem.

The Molo, Eldoret, Kericho, Kakamega, Kisumu areas which have been the sites of serious civil unrest earlier this week are still receiving continual TV coverage of the incidents in the international media. These areas continue to be off-limits for tourists and tour operators are not taking any tourists to these areas for the time being.

Cancellations and Travel Warnings:
Owing to the Travel Warnings and Security Advisories, large numbers of cancellations have been received across the whole tourism sector by hotels and safari operators but at this stage they are mainly concentrating on the next three weeks to the end of January. Bookings for February/March and onwards have not yet been cancelled to the same extent as it appears that there is a ''wait and see'' attitude from many clients. This shows that if the situation can be stabilised soon then there is an opportunity for recovery.

Jake Grieves-Cook
Spokesman, Kenya Tourism Federation




Saturday 5 January 2008: Update 10.00 pm


Nairobi:
Once again there were no incidents today affecting tourists in Nairobi. The roads between JKIA, Wilson and all Nairobi hotels were all open and traffic was moving without hindrance throughout the day. Tourist vehicles were also able to move along Uhuru Highway throughout the day. The police were present along the highway but in reduced numbers today. There was an attempt by small crowds to march to Uhuru Park from the Karen area but the GSU / Police presence prevented access and there were no serious confrontations.

All airport transfers took place without any problems. JKIA arrivals were lower than normal as a result of the travel warnings taking effect.

There were some skirmishes in the low-income housing estates near Nairobi between residents, and police intervened, with reports indicating that one person was killed but this disturbance was confined to Dandora.

Mombasa:
At the coast things continue returning to normal. Shops are open, traffic has resumed driving into the city centre and pavement cafes are all open as usual. Markets were open and were thronged with residents shopping peacefully.

All tourist departure transfers last night, early this morning and later throughout the day took place without any problems. There were no charter arrivals from UK, France or Netherlands but there were some arrivals from Germany and Italy and also from Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Poland).

The ODM leaders attempted to hold a march around 1pm but this was quickly dispersed by the heavy police presence and the leaders then went to Makupa police station to present a letter. This did not cause any disruption to tourists since the tour operators are not running city tours for the time being but road safaris and excursions to Shimba Hills, Shimoni, Tsavo, etc continue to operate as normal.

Upcountry:
There were no problems reported from any of the parks or reserves and all road safaris were operating as normal while air safaris from Wilson to all scheduled stops went ahead as normal.

Reports have been received from the Baringo area that some staff in hotels have felt intimidated on tribal lines as a result of the clashes in the Eldoret area and decided to move away in the interests of their own safety to Nakuru.

The Molo, Eldoret, Kericho, Kakamega, Kisumu areas have been the sites of serious civil unrest earlier this week, receiving continual TV coverage of the incidents in the international media, and continue to be tense with reports today of some incidents of arson. These areas are not suitable for tourist visitation and continue to be absolutely off-limits for tourists. No tour operators have been running tours to these areas since the unrest started last week. The roads to Eldoret have been blocked by mobs and the transport system in this area has broken down but the army has been in the area, clearing and re-opening the roads.

Jake Grieves-Cook
Spokesman, Kenya Tourism Federation




Friday 4 January 2008: KTF Update 6 p.m.


Today there were no reports received by KTF from Mombasa, Up-country or Nairobi of any violent incidents.

All transfers between hotels and airport and safari departures by road from Mombasa and Nairobi took place without any problems. It is reported that Wilson Airport has aviation fuel once again and diesel is now available again in Narok.

Today offices, banks and shops were open and public transport was operating so staff were able to make their way to work.

The shopping malls in Nairobi and Mombasa such as Village Market, Sarit Centre or Nakumatt were packed with people shopping and eating in the restaurants and food courts, giving an impression that things in the cities are now returning to normal.

Tourists who have been in the country over the last week have not been affected by the disturbances as these have taken place largely in places not frequented by tourist visitors. Very few tourists currently in the country have decided to cancel their holidays and the vast majority have opted to complete their stay and have been very content with their visit to Kenya.

Jake Grieves-Cook
Spokesman, Kenya Tourism Federation




Wednesday 2 January 2008: Kenya situation on the ground


Mombasa
The situation in Mombasa and along the coast is calm and things seem to be returning to normal on the streets in Mombasa.

The Resident Manager of a leading international tour operator based in Mombasa gave details of the situation on the ground as follows:

FYI there were no signs of trouble when I drove to Mombasa airport yesterday morning when our transfer buses arrived. On the drive back to our office in Mombasa around lunchtime, I was heartened to see kiosk owners had opened up and were selling basic foodstuffs and people were venturing out on the streets again – including families and children.

By the time I went home in the afternoon a few matatus had started operating and although things were still very quiet at least there was no trouble. This morning, a few more kiosks have opened and there is more traffic on the roads although things are still quiet.

People are moving around more freely and in town last night, the madafu sellers were out on the streets and people appeared to be trying to get their lives back to some semblance of normality! Delighted to report that all clients who left on the charter yesterday confirmed that they had had a great holiday!


A leading Mombasa based tour company indicated that they moved 100 people today in 28 different vehicles between the beach hotels and the Mombasa airport without any problem. In fact they have seen no incidents affecting tourists on the route between the airport and the beach hotels since the elections.

The riots which took place in Mombasa after the announcement of the election results were fairly isolated and occurred in the Likoni area and some of the high density housing estates and slum areas. These demonstrations appear to have ended and there is a strong police presence along the main tourist routes so that order is maintained.

The reports from all the tourists staying in the beach hotels is that they were not affected and they all wished to complete their stay in Kenya. The reports we have received from the ground today all indicate that all is calm and there have been no reports of any incidents.

Nairobi
The situation in Nairobi is also calm and transfers have been operating between JKIA and Wilson airports to Nairobi hotels without any problems. All my drivers have reported that the roads were normal but with a heavy police presence along the main highway. The police were ensuring that all tourist vehicles proceeded without a problem but were diverting some of the other traffic away from the city centre, public buses, matatus etc. We have had clients arriving and leaving between 0600 this morning and 2000 tonight with absolutely no signs of any unrest or insecurity.

The riots which took place in Nairobi over the last few days were all over by yesterday morning and were confined to various housing estates and slum areas. There was some rioting last night in the Huruma low-income housing estate but this was contained by the police and was confined to this area. Today offices re-opened and people were back at work. Nairobi gave the impression of returning to normal.

Safari: Parks & Reserves
No security problems have been reported in any of the parks or reserves and all safaris are operating as normal.

Up-country
We have heard no further reports of any violent incidents in other areas but it is considered that Kericho, Eldoret and Kisumu should be avoided for the time being as there were some cases of killings, destruction of property and looting in some of these areas yesterday. These are not areas normally visited by tourists and are far away from the areas where we take our clients.

Other issues

Fuel: There have been reports of fuel shortages in some areas as a result of disruption to supply caused by the insecurity in the previous three days. The Kenya Association of Tour Operators has been in touch with the fuel suppliers and it has been confirmed that there are adequate stocks of fuel available for distribution. Delivery of fuel to most stations especially within urban areas has already started and by this evening more fuel should have been distributed. Most stations within the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa will have adequate fuel by tomorrow evening.

Negative publicity, Travel Advisories and cancellations: We have been disappointed to see some of the sensational reporting which suggested that a civil war is raging in Kenya and that tourists are stranded here. Nobody is stranded as the airports are open and all the flights are operating as normal.

Very few tourists have opted to leave early and the overwhelming majority have only been aware of the problems by watching international TV! We in Kenya all understand and appreciate the concerns of the international media and potential tourist visitors especially when killings and riots have taken place but we can report that here on the ground in Nairobi and Mombasa as of today all was quiet and apparently returning to a semblance of normality.

Jake Grieves-Cook
Spokesman, Kenya Tourism Federation
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