NAIROBI, Kenya – A group of top travel agents from the United States declared that Kenya was still one of the safest holiday destinations, said a statement from Kenya’s ministry of tourism on Tuesday.
The statement said the travel agents who were in the country to assess the security situation in the country met Tourism Minister Najib Balala and assured him they were happy with government efforts to restore security at the Kenya borders.
Scott Wiseman, the president of Abercrombie and Kent in the United States, the world’s foremost luxury travel company, who led the delegation said Kenya’s tourism industry was on the right path to recovery following recent cases of insecurity that hit some parts of the country.
Wiseman said security now was more reassuring and assured tourists from the American market and the world over to feel safe while visiting or planning to visit Kenya.
Balala said the government has beefed up security in entry points and major installations around the country to ensure that the east African nation enjoys peace.
“Balala said the government was not ready to negotiate with criminal gangs and that the government was doing everything possible to ensure security of all its citizens and foreigners,” the statement said.
The minister said tourism was an important pillar to the country’s economy, contributing 10 percent to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), an economy he said, the country would not allow criminal gangs to destroy.
The minister appealed to the African Union, the European Union and the international community to support Kenya’s efforts to restore regional peace, saying that Somalia’s problem had cost Kenya a lot in terms of lives and resources.
Remarks by the travel agents from America that Kenya is safe for holiday destinations have also been echoed by the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scotts Gration during his tour of Lamu with the minister a few weeks ago.
Gration told hoteliers and industry stakeholders in Lamu that the efforts the government had put in place to ensure security in Lamu and other border towns were a clear testimony that security was a priority to the government.
Just like Gration promised to plan his holiday in Lamu, so were the travel agents who were also convinced that Kenya has attractive tourist attraction sites that needed to be promoted.
The assurance comes amid threats from Somalia’s insurgents who have vowed to revenge attacks on Kenya which sent its troops in Somalia mid last month to subdue the militia.
The Al-Shabaab terror groups have flagrantly violated the Kenya’ s territorial integrity and national economy through escalated cross-border raids, which has forced the country to invoke Article 51 of the UN Charter to exercise its right to self- defense against continued external aggressions.
Kenya believed that the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab movement and its affiliates are behind abductions, including the recent kidnapping of two Medecins Sans Frontiers aid workers from Dadaab camp last month.
There has been also several Al-Shabaab attacks along the Kenya- Somalia border, besides the continued recruitment of Kenyan youth to the terror group’s ranks.