25TH SEPTEMBER, 2013 17.00 HRS (EAT)
Following the attack at the Westgate Mall on Saturday, 21st September, 2013, multiple security teams have been engaged in securing the mall and have succeeded in containing the attackers. This brought to an end the anxiety caused by the 5 day siege that left 67 dead among them six security officers and 240 people were injured.
While addressing the nation yesterday (24th September, 2013) after the successful operation, President Uhuru Kenyatta vowed that he would stand firm against terrorism and those behind the attack would be punished "swiftly" and "very painfully.
The President took the opportunity to celebrate the dedication of the Kenyan security teams, condole with the families who lost loved ones as well as appreciate everyone who volunteered their time and their resources towards resolving the needs of the crisis. He also declared a 3 day mourning period beginning today during which the national flag will fly half mast.
The President has reassured both Kenyans and the international community that the Government will not relent until the perpetrators are brought to book. He applauded the ‘#WeAreOne’ spirit of the Kenyan people that has been demonstrated through the overwhelming support through blood donations, sharing of financial resources among others.
While the incident affected various nationals, its notable that there haven’t been travel advisories that directly discourage travel to Kenya but rather there was advice to keep off the affected shopping mall as well as crowded areas (which is normal).
Most foreign missions and governments continue to show support to Kenya and the affected citizens and they take cognizance of the fact that terrorism is a global issue.
Tourism events - 2013
KTB wishes to confirm that key events slated for next month, the World Travel Awards (WTA) 16th October, 2013 and the Magical Kenya Travel Expo (16th – 18th 0ctober, 2013) are on course. Currently, both the Eco Tourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC) and African Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) are both on –going with a representation of over 40 countries. These are being held at The Safaripark Hotel and The Intercontinental Hotel respectively.
KTB wishes to confirm that arrangements are underway to have all the delegates to the October events met by both KTB staff and Tour Operators at the airport for smooth clearance and support.
The Tourist Police Unit (TPU) will continue to offer its services and escorts during the FAM trips will be arranged where need be. Delegates are encouraged to register with their local embassies for their own comfort and peace of mind. Security measures by both hotels and conference venue hosts have been tightened and KTB wishes to re assure all delegates that their safety remains a priority.
We wish to confirm that the rest of the city in Nairobi and the country at large continues to enjoy peace and tranquility even at the backdrop of the just ended unfortunate event and that tourism activities have not been affected in any way. Kenya’s national parks, one of the key tourism products, remain as safe as always.
Kenya Tourism Board Efforts
KTB was part of the teams supporting the many Kenyans and residents of all races who have come forward to donate blood. KTB and other government agencies in the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism hosted a hospitality tent on site to provide snacks and drinks to both the security teams at the blood donation venue as well as the blood donors.
In addition, KTB will be making a donation through the efforts of staff to the Kenya Road Cross to enable the purchase of various medical supplies to enhance coping with the large numbers that have turned out to donate blood, post attack trauma counseling as well as sending messages of support to those affected using local media channels.
KTB also continues to engage the local media to win back Kenyans to enjoying their own country through local travel, shopping and other activities that indeed confirm that Kenya is safe.
KTB will share with the MDRs offices on social media and otherwise testimonials by both local and international tourists to give their first hand perception of Kenya as a tourist destination even at this time of the unanticipated tragedy.
KTB will continue to reach out to all the MDR offices through frequent updates which can be used to re-assure and inform the travel trade on any new destination information. These can be customized to suit the various markets for use on a need basis.
We appeal to all the MKTE delegates to support Kenya and visit as planned in solidarity as part of the international community well aware that terrorism is a global vice that must be fought in unity. Kenya still remains a tourism destination of choice.
Please feel free to send in any inquiries that you may have from both media and trade as the events unfold. We will keep you updated.
MURIITHI NDEGWA, OGW