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US Promises Financial Assistance for Kenya - 2003-06-27


The United States has promised financial assistance to boost Kenya's economic recovery and security programs. At the same time, Britain has lifted its travel advisory and flight ban to Nairobi, in a move that should help Kenya's ailing tourism industry.

Kenya will benefit from a $100 million grant announced Thursday by President Bush to help east African countries fight terrorism.

A spokesman from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Thomas Hart, says he does not know the exact amount Kenya will receive under this grant, but he says the money will assist the country beef up its security.

"The United States wants Kenya to invest in security-related improvements to airports, ports, security services, and so forth, border controls as well," he said.

Kenyan media reports say the nation could also qualify for World Bank funding to help it cope with huge losses its tourism sector incurred following the recent spate of terrorist alerts, travel advisories, and flight bans.

The Kenyan government says the country is losing an estimated $14 million a week in tourism earnings and tax revenues because of these measures.

But Kenyan officials expect the situation to improve following the British government's cancellation Thursday of its travel advisory against Kenya and the lifting of British Airways' ban on its flights to Nairobi.

Britain issued a terrorism alert in mid-May that prompted British Airways to suspend flights to Kenya. The U.S. Embassy has also indicated that the United States may re-evaluate its travel advisory against Kenya.

Tourism Minister Raphael Tuju welcomed the British and the U.S. governments' measures, saying that they combat negative messages that Kenya is too dangerous to visit.

"It's going to make our work easier in changing these perceptions," he said. "It is very difficult to try and change negative perceptions when there is a ban on your country. We're going to go on an information, communication and public relations offensive internationally, essentially to give the true picture. The truth of the matter is that the threat of terrorism is there in Kenya, as it is in the U.K., as it is in the U.S."

Mr. Tuju says he plans to revamp the tourism police force, improve hotel quality, promote little-known tourist sites and encourage more domestic tourism as ways of repairing the damage done to Kenya's tourism industry.

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