Published May 2, 2013
Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group and President of Virgin Atlantic, has in a hard-hitting statement blamed the US and the UK for branding Kenya as a dangerous destination in their anti travel advisories which immediately invalidated any travel insurance tourists planning to visit Kenya would purchase.
Arguing that regions affected by terror should be helped with travel and tourism instead of putting out advisories against visiting them, Sir Richard blames the warnings on Virgin’s decision to halt flights between London and Nairobi, which added at the time to the exodus of other airlines from Kenya, negatively affecting the country’s tourism performance in 2012.
Diplomatic sources in Kenya have promptly denied any hidden agenda and pointed to their legal duty to inform their citizens of risks when coming to Kenya, but as is often the case, these explanations sound hollow and more of an afterthought trying to repair the damage the advisories have done in the first place.
It was also noted by other tourism stakeholders that following the peaceful elections in Kenya in March 2013 which passed without the projected violence as peddled by certain overseas media houses, lifting the anti travel advisories was slow in coming and yet they had been slapped down hard and fast to start with.
Kenya is expected to make up for the losses incurred by the tourism industry in the first months of 2013 and the Kenya Tourism Board has asked the government for Sh500 Million to run a ‘recovery marketing campaign’ similar to what was done in 2008 and 2009. Industry sources nevertheless expressed their doubts that the country could match the 2012 results, which were down from the record performance in 2011 but were also confident that latest in 2014 the upward trend would be restored in full.