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Kenya Violence


eTN Inbox: Kenya tour operator writes

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eTN Staff writer  Jan 09, 2008

Wildlife Safari, the premier luxury tour operator to Africa, was established by Tom Fernandes in Nairobi, Kenya over thirty six years ago and still maintains its head office in Nairobi with a team of over sixty staff in Kenya. We are one of the last “safari operators” that owns and operates our fleet of new 4WD vehicles with the finest guides in East Africa, everyone is company employed, not “freelance” as with almost every other operator. Every Wildlife Safari vehicle is linked by a UHF/VHF radio system and cellular telephone to our main office from 6:00am to 6:00pm every day of the year, so we always know where our clients are at all times.

While the recent events in Kenya following the general elections of 27th December 2007 are very disturbing, the violence has been limited to small pockets around the country. All these locations are not close to areas visited on any Wildlife Safari itinerary and most parts of Nairobi and all of the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries have been trouble free.

I am actually in Nairobi this week, viewing the situation first hand as well as via CNN & BBC. Wildlife Safari has also had a number of clients in and out of Nairobi as part of their safari and none were involved with or inconvenienced by the events outside the city. In my opinion, more damage has been caused by the foreign press with their wildly exaggerated reporting of events.

A family of twenty from our USA office spent the morning shopping and lunching in downtown Nairobi without any hint of trouble only to return to their hotel and watch CNN relaying a story of “downtown” Nairobi burning. Another family, also from our USA office, reported a similar story and could not understand the panic being reported on TV in their hotel rooms. BBC kept screening the same footage for three days as they reported on Nairobi’s “doom and chaos”.

www.news.com.au carried a Reuters story about that six hundred Australians stranded in Kenya and that panic was setting in about being able to “flee” due to flight cancellations. I have looked at flight arrivals & departures during the past week and apart from one Kenya Airways flight to London, all other flights including Emirates, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air Mauritius operated without incident. The only probable stranding of Australian tourists would be around the lunch buffet on safari – behind the Germans!!! Stick to reporting the cricket scores, Rupert.

Similarly, various foreign governments have advised their citizens to avoid traveling to Kenya.

As an Australian, I appreciate the cautious approach required by governments. However, I also question where DFAT obtains its “facts” about travel within Kenya as no consultation process exists with people on the ground, like Wildlife Safari, who know more about local conditions than an intelligence report – remember “weapons of mass destruction” ???

Kenyans, and our friends worldwide, have been shocked by the events of last week. The culprits are no more than a small group of thugs always looking for an opportunity to cause mayhem by looting and burning. These individuals are not politically motivated but are driven by their own brutish behavior. Sadly, innocent citizens were caught in the middle of this chaos but Kenyan companies and individuals are contributing funds, food and materials to assist the displaced and Wildlife Safari will approach our two principle hotel partners in Kenya to create a joint program to assist those in need in the areas surrounding Nairobi.

Wildlife Safari is operating all our safaris as normal and we will continue to monitor local travel conditions – as we do every day of the year – from our Nairobi office and our regular terms and conditions of business apply. Wildlife Safari uses only the finest hotels in Nairobi – The Norfolk (Fairmont) Hotel & The Nairobi Serena Hotel – both have excellent facilities, service & security. We are the only “Africa” tour operator with our own “in house” operation in Kenya so we know where our clients are at all times, while clients of other tour operators are handled by third party operators on the ground. Our documents also include Tom Fernandes’ home telephone, how is that for service and security???

Please email any questions direct to Tom Fernandes or myself or both – thank you.

Trevor Fernandes
Chief Executive
Wildlife Safari
213 Railway Road
Subiaco WA 6008
AUSTRALIA
trevor@wildlifesafari.com.au

Tom Fernandes
Executive Chairman
Wildlife Safari
“Serengeti House”
Nairobi
KENYA
tom@wildlifesafari.co.ke

eTN Inbox:  Kenya tour operator writes
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