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Kenya Tourist Board update on recent events over contested Kenya’s 2007 presidential election

Feb 05, 2008

Kenya tourism officials are working diligently to ensure the safety and security of visitors to the country. In order to keep the traveling public up-to-date on the situation on ground in Kenya, we are sending out continual updates on the current state of affairs within the country with regard to the tourism infrastructure.

POLITICAL UPDATE:

Following Kofin Annan’s arrival in Kenya, he succeeded in quickly bringing the two opposing sides together in talks aimed at solving the current political crisis. The government and opposition sides have each chosen a 3-person team to negotiate a political settlement, with Mr Annan as mediator backed by a team of “Eminent Africans” including Graca Machel and the former President of Tanzania. After their first full morning meeting last week, both sides issued a joint statement which expressed optimism that a peaceful solution to the political crisis would be arrived at sooner rather than later. An agenda has been agreed upon with one of the first objectives being to take immediate steps to stop the violence and thereby resolve the immediate crisis within a 15 day time-scale.

Mr Annan’s team proposed Cyril Ramaphosa as mediator to lead talks in the longer term to address Kenya's ethnic and land issues. However the government side expressed reservations about Mr Ramaphosa, who it was suggested might have business links to ODM leader Raila Odinga, whereupon he withdrew and left the country yesterday. This means an alternative person will have to be appointed. In the short term the key priority is to achieve an immediate end to violence and the talks continue today with Mr Annan as mediator.

As part of the strategy to stop violence, MPs are returning to their constituencies to urge their supporters to shun violence and keep the peace. It seems that this approach is already having an effect as calm has returned to many of the areas previously experiencing unrest. The coast MPs announced in Mombasa that they intend that the coast region should set an example to the rest of the country as to how different ethnic groups can once again live together in harmony as Kenyans.

SECURITY SITUATION IN KENYA:

The security situation in the country today is now reported to be calmer in those areas in the western corner of Kenya which have experienced ethnic clashes in recent days.

In the tourist areas all continues calm and unchanged with no problems reported affecting any tourist visitors to the international hotels in Nairobi, the beach resorts at the coast and the wildlife parks and reserves.

The route to the Mara past Narok town continues to be used by tourist vehicles without any problems reported. The Senior Warden for Masai Mara National Reserve has also confirmed that security patrols have been put in place both on the approach to and exit from Narok town as an additional measure to ensure the safety of tourists.

Naivasha and Nakuru: Tourist vehicles continue travelling to Lake Naivasha, through Naivasha town and onwards to Lake Nakuru National Park. Throughout the past four weeks Lake Nakuru National Park has remained secure and safe for visitors with KWS rangers on duty to patrol the park.

Mombasa: The security situation in Mombasa town has been calm and peaceful for a continuous period over the past two weeks and it is generally calm throughout the coast province.

Areas to avoid

The Kenya Tourism Federation continues to monitor the security situation to ensure that any areas considered unsafe for tourists are avoided. While the beach resorts, the safari circuit, the airports in Nairobi and the highways between them to the Nairobi international hotels are considered safe for visitors at the present time, the following areas continue to be off-limits for tourists until further notice:

Western Kenya: The Kenya Tourism Federation continues to recommend that for the time being visitors should avoid the following areas where there have been sporadic incidents of civil unrest in recent weeks: Nyanza Province, Western Province, and the western area of Rift Valley Province including roads to the north of Narok to Bomet, Sotik and Njoro, the areas surrounding Kericho, Molo, Londiani, Nandi Hills and Eldoret. These places are not normally visited by tourists and members of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators have avoided the whole area since the onset of the post-election problems. Currently the situation in most of these places is reported to be calm but in recent weeks there have been frequent disturbances and civil unrest in Kisumu and in the areas around Kericho and Eldoret.

For visitors to Nairobi it is recommended that the high density housing estates and slums should be avoided, including Eastleigh, Mathare, Huruma, and Kibera but tourists have always been advised to keep away from these areas.

NEWS FROM THE NATIONAL PARKS:

The Kenya Wildlife Service has announced the results of a census of the elephant population in Tsavo National Park and the adjoining eco-systems which shows that numbers have increased and poaching is at minimal levels. Tsavo is Kenya’s largest national park and the elephant population there is now 11,696 which is an increase on the figure of 10,397 three years ago. The new figure from this year’s census represents a 4.1 per cent growth rate, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service Director, Dr Julius Kipng’etich. “The elephant is Kenya’s flagship species and so its distribution and condition is a good indicator of the status of our wildlife,” Dr Kipng’etich said.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION - The U.S. State Department has updated travel information for Americans travelling to Kenya on their website. For more information please visit www.travel.state.gov . Additionally, travellers can visit the U.S. Embassy site in Nairobi at www.kenya.usembassy.gov . Please be sure to monitor the situation on all fronts, as the situation is fluid and can change at any time. The KTB strongly urges travelers and travel suppliers to make informed decisions based upon all the information that is available on Kenya’s state-of-affairs by continually checking with all available informed sources. As always, all U.S. travelers into Kenya should register themselves through the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi at: http://travelregistration.state.gov .

We will advise if there are any changes in the situation in Kenya, but at present, we continue to welcome North American travelers and all tourism infrastructure units are operating as normal. We are monitoring the situation carefully and will continue to distribute updates on the status of this situation if changes arise. For additional information, please contact the Kenya Tourist Board at 866-44-KENYA / infousa@magicalkenya.com . Updates can be accessed on www.magicalkenya.com and also www.kenyaagent.com

Kenya Tourist Board update on recent events over contested Kenya’s 2007 presidential election



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