The Nairobi attacks occurred at a luxury hotel in the capital city of Kenya, at Riverside Drive within a luxury hotel. The terrorist group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for terrorist attack. Riverside Hotel is 4km’s away from Westgate Mall, where Al-Shabaab terrorists attacked this mall in 2013, frequented by terrorists and expats where 71 people were killed and 200 were killed.
Westlands is the economic heartland of Nairobi, which high end hotels and high rise trendy office parks. The terrorist attacks will create a dip in tourism to Kenya and East Africa which has been a leading area in tourism growth in Africa.
Terrorists usually target areas with terrorists because any negative new will be met by an international media presence which would match the ideological needs of the terrorists. This means that areas frequented by tourists must get additional security. The tourism industry must be protected as it has emerged as a major economic sector, which is the major foreign exchange earner in most Africa countries.
Western countries produce the largest number of outbound tourists and travel warning from developing countries are treated seriously. In addition, African countries suffer from a “neighborhood effect” where a negative impact in one African country is attributed to the whole continent. Reference can be made to the Ebola outbreak that occurred in West Africa which led to a decrease in tourism to South Africq.
We must however not despair, as terrorism has become the new normal, people’s travel plans are less impacted by terrorism today when compared to 2001. Europe has been experiencing several waves of terrorist attacks and this has led to the development of crisis resistant tourists.
Tourists that still travel to the destination area that has experienced a major negative occurrence. Kenya must increase visible policing and initiate a crisis management plan to win back the tourists and its international standing. The tourism industry is very resilient and Kenya will rise again.
The pattern of terrorist attacks in Africa must warn other African countries to ensure they improve their intelligence and counter terrorism measures especially South Africa which is known as a funding destination for international terrorism organizations. The tourism industry places safety and security as a premium in the tourism experience of guests.
Kenya will overcome this painful period and the tourists will continue to visit.
Written by: Mr. Unathi Sonwabile Henama Lecturer
Department of Tourism Management
Tshwane University of Technology
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