UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office lifts four-year-old travel ban on Lamu, Manda islands

Earlier, a travel ban was announced by the UK to her citizens, due to the high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping.

 

In a statement on its website, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it no longer advises against any travel to Lamu and Manda Islands but cautioned on the mode of transport to be used.

Earlier, a travel ban was announced by the UK to her citizens, due to the high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. The main threat by then was coming from extremists linked to the Somalia based militant group al Shabaab.

“If you travel to Lamu Island or Manda Island, you should do so by air to Manda airport and not by road,” reads part of the statement.

Commenting on the new development, Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast’s Chief Executive Officer, Sam Ikwaye, said it is great moves that will see the coastal region regain its former glory, to cash in from tourism.

“This is long overdue, the investors have really suffered during the three to four years that the ban has been in place. Unlike Malindi where some investors shut down, Lamu investors have remained resilient through all this,” he said.

He added: “We are happy about what is happening in the industry. Farmers, fishermen and all the players in the supply chain in this sector have suffered. But this is a positive move towards boosting tourist arrivals into the country.”

International fete

The review of the travel advisory announced last evening comes at a time Kenya is being represented by 40 trade operators in the ongoing International Tourism Bourse (ITB) travel show in Berlin, Germany.

Speaking at the event, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala reckoned that Kenya is making efforts in a bid to lower the cost of doing business through business regulatory reforms intended at reducing the number of licensing requirements.

“Tourism has potential of creating more jobs for our citizens (for every 10 visitors, 1 job is created), earning the Government more tax revenue, which currently stands at Sh94 billion,” Balala said.

Regional integration

Since 2012, the tourism sector has experienced a downturn, attributed to among others prohibitive policy regulations such as VAT on tourism services and negative perceptions of the destination security. The private sector led by the Kenya Tourism Federation has agreed with the Government sound policy interventions are necessary for the sector’s revival.

A lot is happening even in the regional arena to boost revenues in the tourism sector. Two weeks ago, a portal seeking to promote tourism in the region-the East Africa Tourism Portal- went live.

The portal provides an avenue for all players in the tourism industry to market and advertise their products. It also provides travelers an avenue to select different (multi-country) travel packages.

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