Bound to affect tourism and travel
Mombasa blasts well away from tourist hot spots
(eTN) - A regular source from the Kenyan coast, met only a few days ago at the e-Tourism Conference in Nairobi, was swift to make contact and get heard when he said: “We had two separate but almost simultaneous explosions last evening in Mombasa. First we had an explosive device thrown into a congregation of Christians praying in Mtwapa, one of the outlying areas north of Mombasa, in which several people were seriously hurt. Then very soon afterwards was a similar device thrown at a bar near the municipal stadium where again people were seriously injured. It seems the same tactic, which was used in Nairobi when you were last there and reported that night, and our police are already combing suspect hideouts and looking for the culprits.
“It is a very cowardly act but that is what these people do. We Kenyans cannot be scared off from what we are doing in Somalia; they should know that by now. But also to be honest, this is the week ahead of Easter, and we expect a big inflow of visitors from upcountry. Such incidents are bound to have an impact on bookings and, of course, the anti-travel advisories will be sure forthcoming again and bad for business.”
Other sources in regular contact echoed these sentiments and expressed their fear that with such incidents spreading to the coast it could have a significant impact on tourism arrivals. Former Minister of Tourism, Najib Balala, who is in Mombasa at present, was swift to condemn the attacks and drew on the parallels of the Lamu situation of last year, which was also overcome by determined responses from Kenya’s security organizations, while the tourism stakeholders presented facts and details without panicking.
The timing of the attack could not have been worse, though as the local dailies in Kenya will needless to say, of course, provide full details in coming days, and Easter at the Kenya coast will for many suddenly not be such a fancy proposition, in spite of no tourist attractions or facilities having been targeted.
While in Nairobi it was also evident that added security precautions are now in place in banks, public offices, shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, and government offices as part of prevention, but also to reassure the general public that indeed all is being done what can be done to keep them safe from Somalia’s militant Islamist terror groups, which on the battlefield are now suffering one setback after the other as the combined forces of AMISOM, Ethiopia, and Kenya continue their relentless advance on the remaining terror and piracy strongholds.