United States Lists Kenya As A Kidnap Hotspot In Latest Travel Alert

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The United States government has listed Kenya among the global kidnapping hotspots in a new risk indicator that Washington DC has introduced for travel advisories.
The latest move adds yet another challenge to Kenya’s tourism sector.
On Tuesday, The Department of State, which is in charge of foreign affairs, stated that the new assessment measure was been informed by cases of “kidnapping and hostage taking by criminal and terrorist actors around the world”.

About 35 countries including Kenya have been hit with the updated advisories which include the risk of kidnapping.
The United States, was the leading source of foreign tourists to Kenya last year when earnings from the sector jumped 37 percent to 157 billion Kenyan Shillings, a figure which is the biggest increase in more than a decade.

The United States Foreign Office said in a statement that “The new “K” indicator is part of our ongoing commitment to provide clear and comprehensive travel safety information to US citizens so they can make informed travel decisions,”.

The United States which is the world’s largest economy, from time to time, issues country-specific cautions to its travelling citizens based on assessments of risk factors that include crime, terrorism, civil unrest, natural disasters and health.
Almost half of the affected countries (16 in total) where United States citizens get regular reports on the risk of being abducted are on the African continent.



Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania, are the only countries in the six-nation East African Community (EAC) bloc that have been spared the kidnap risk indicator in the assessments of the safety of US travellers.

Kenya is also joined by its EAC counterparts; Uganda and South Sudan on the list that also includes north-neighbouring Ethiopia.
The new risk indicator comes not long after President Donald Trump called on Uganda to find kidnappers of a US tourist and her Ugandan driver who were eventually released by their abductors last weekend, after an ordeal that dragged on for five days.

Kenya on the the other hand, is yet to find an Italian charity worker, Ms Silvia Constanca Romano, who was abducted in Kilifi County on November 20, 2018. That is, according to Business Daily Africa.


The 2013 travel alerts reduced the flow of the tourism revenue, which also doubled as a valuable source of foreign exchange. This put pressure on the Kenyan shilling and forced some hotels out of business.
This development led to the tourism industry asking the US and Europe to lift the travel advisories on Kenya following its peaceful elections and improved security in Somalia.

Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association executive officer at the time Millicent Odhiambo said Kenya deserved support from the international community through the lifting of the travel restrictions.
“For our economy to register steady growth, we must sustain the tourism sector. This can happen if the travel alerts are withdrawn,” Ms Odhiambo said.
The industry however, has since recovered following improved security and aggressive marketing in foreign capitals.


Tourists disembarking from a cruise ship. Photo from Nation Media Group

Kenya’s earnings dropped from 94 billion Kenyan Shillings in 2013 to 84.6 billion Kenyan Shillingsa year later, following the Westgate attack. It then rose to 157 billion Kenyan shillings (as stated earlier) last year from 120 billion Kenyan Shillings in 2017.

Source : http://mpesapay.com/united-states-lists-kenya-as-a-kidnap-hotspot-in-latest-travel-alert/
 
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