A number of UK travel companies have suspending holiday flights to Mombasa Kenya, with hundreds of British tourists being evacuated from the East African country coastal resorts near Mombasa, following terrorist incidents, and new explosions in the capital Nairobi.
Tour operators Thomson and First Choice are bringing their clients home immediately although some have only just arrived some two days earlier. This follows a change in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice on Kenya, based on new intelligence which suggests terrorist activity targeting tourists is about to happen.
The travel firms cancelled all flights to Kenya, up to the end of October, while long-haul travel company Kuoni is, for the time being, not offering holidays to the Kenyan coast.
Earlier this month a bomb explosion at a bus station in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa killed three people, and injured 16 more, here was also a bomb attack which damaged a hotel in the city.
Earlier this week, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) dramatically changed its advice for Kenya, advising against all but essential travel to Mombasa island and within 5km (3.1 miles) of the coast from Mtwapa creek in the north to Tiwi in the south.
A local agent commented: “Although the advice does not include Moi International Airport, Diani beach or Malindi, the main road to access these resorts goes through the restricted area defined by the FCO advice. This means that we are no longer able to offer holidays to the Kenyan coast at present.”
Kuoni Travel said that it would contact all customers who were due to travel in the next seven days and this would continue on a rolling basis until the FCO advice changed. "Any customers that were travelling from the UK within the next seven days with an itinerary that includes the Kenyan coast were able to cancel free of charge or amend to an alternative destination with no administration fee but at the applicable cost."
The company went on: “For any customers who are travelling to other parts of Kenya on safari or staying in a lodge and don’t have Mombasa included in their itinerary, they will not be affected by the current FCO advice and holidays will continue as normal.”
Thomson and First Choice said they had been continuously monitoring the situation as it developed and have been working very closely with the FCO and follow its advice at all times.
“As a result of the change in FCO advice, the decision has been taken to cancel all our outbound flights to Mombasa, Kenya, up to and including October 31st.
“As a precautionary measure, we have also taken the decision to repatriate all customers currently on holiday in Kenya, including our Air Fare passengers, back to the UK on Thursday and Friday this week.”
According to reports, Thomson has about 400 customers in Kenya, including those in Mombasa and on safari.
The FCO advice reads: “There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. The main threat comes from extremists linked to Al Shabaab, a militant group that has carried out attacks in Kenya in response to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.
“There has been a spate of small-scale grenade, bomb and armed attacks in Nairobi (especially the area of Eastleigh), Mombasa, and North Eastern Province. You should take care in public places where people gather, and exercise a heightened level of vigilance. "
A spokeswoman for the FCO said: “We estimate there are 5,000 British nationals resident along the coast, and approximately 500 in Mombasa and surrounding area.”
JULIAN BRAY, Media, Aviation, & Travel/Cruise Industry Expert. Broadcaster & Journalist, Regional Politics, EQUITY, NUJ Life Mbr. UK Tel: 01733 345581 (isdn remote location kit available)