After Islamist gunmen last week killed 147 people at the Garissa University College campus in Kenya, tourists have started cancelling trips to Kenya, Hoteliers from Kenya's Indian Ocean coast region and sprawling game park reserves have said.
According to reports, the recent massacre by al Shabab militant group has overwhelmed Kenya and launched a new challenge to President Uhuru Kenyatta's plans to boost the tourism sector.
Kenya's tourism industry which is a very important part of Kenya’s economy has reportedly been in decline since 2013 when al Shabaab stormed an upscale shopping mall in the capital Nairobi, killing 67 people during a bloody four-day siege. Since then, repeat the terrorist group attacks and travel warnings issued by the likes of Britain, United States and Australia emptied Kenya's palm-fringed beaches and forced hotels to lay off staff.
According to Reuters, Hoteliers say the pre-dawn attack on the campus, a remote town 200km from the Somalia border, far off the tourist trail, is likely to spark another wave of redundancies in the hospitality sector.
“We were expecting tourists from UK, Germany, France, Australia and Asia continent but they cancelled their bookings when they learnt of the terror attack,” said Peter Kipeno, the owner of a luxury tented camp in Kenya's Maasai Mara game park, nearly 600km from Garissa.
Al Shabaab militants have killed over 400 people in Kenya since April 2013 with the government struggling to stop fighters and weapons coming across the 700 km border with Somalia. However, Kenya has shown no inclination to pull out of Somalia where its troops, part of an UN-backed African Union peacekeeping mission, have wrestled swathes of territory from the Islamist group.
Following Thursday' s deadly attack, Kenya’s former Prime Minister and the leader of Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord), Mr. Raila Odinga called for immediate withdrawal of Kenya's military from Somalia during Easter mass in Mombasa Sunday.
According to Standard, the ex- premier said the continued stay of Kenyan Military troops in Somalia was one of the reasons Kenya was being attacked by members of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group. The leader of Cord reportedly noted that an Africa Union (AU) resolution preceding Kenya's intervention in Somalia late 2011 was against sending of soldiers from Somalia's immediate neighbours into the war-torn country.
"The AU has a resolution which discourages a country from sending military officers to a troubled immediate neighbouring country," Mr Raila reportedly said adding that
"We [Kenya] have a long border with Somalia and even erecting a wall won't work. It is time that we look into ways that will see how our troops can withdraw from Somalia," he reportedly said (Agencies)