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The U.S. Department of State defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.” Likewise, as terrorism against tourists often involves international citizens, international terrorism is defined as “terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country.”
WHY DO TERRORISTS TARGET KENYA?
Geographic location, poverty and unstable neighbours are some key elements that have contributed to past terrorist attacks faced by Kenya.
Kenya’s unique geographic location acts as a passageway from the Middle East and South Asia to East Africa and beyond. Therefore, Kenya had to cater for the many activities that would now exist because of this pathway so an extensive seaport was constructed as well as two international airports, one in Mombassa and one in Nairobi along with rail, road and communication infrastructure. With these additions, travel and entry into and around Kenya is quite easy and usually obscure due to its penetrable borders coupled with its surrounding neighbours and unmonitored coastline. In particular, the Arabs in Kenya that occupy the coastal areas are closely linked to the Arabs in the Middle East as they both share a common religion and language. This has made it quite convenient for terrorist to blend into the community.
For these reasons, Kenya is a preferred choice for terrorist to strike.
DISCUSSION ON TERRORISM’S IMPACT ON THE HOSPITALITY & TOURISM INDUSTRY IN KENYA (25 MARKS)
Tourism, one of the foundation blocks of Kenya’s economy, constitutes 25% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has been adversely affected by the repercussions of terrorism.
Firstly, the influx of tourist to Kenya can be estimated to over 500,000 visitors each year. Europe and the United States of America (USA) represent Kenya’s traveller generating region with 70% of the market being Europeans (Switzerland, Italy, Belgium France and Britain account for the bulk of tourists). In addition, visitors come from Japan, Asia, Scandinavia, and other African countries.
USA, Germany, Great Britain and some other countries, upon receiving the news about the terrorist attacks on Kenya’s US Embassy in Nairobi, immediately issued travel advisories to their citizens and imposed travel bans to refrain travel to Kenya as it was deemed unsafe. Moreover, the extensive media coverage of the attacks particularly focused on Kenya’s vulnerability to terrorism severely tarnished its image. These responses lead to a decline in travel to Kenya and some neighboring countries as travelers feared the spillover of the terrorist attacks. For example, tourism businesses were terribly affected by the travel warnings. Tourism brought in US $500 million in annual revenue and was losing at least $1 million everyday due to the decline in tourism. ( ) Consequently, Kenya’s tourism industry was paralyzed.
Kenya suffered a decrease in tourist arrivals. This had a ripple effect on all sectors of the industry. The cancellation of leisure trips and business conferences were rapidly on the rise. Kenya’s reputation plummeted and this lead to the loss of its competitive value. Kenya was no longer an option to be considered for vacation or investment. Tourism catered to the employment of 500, 000 Kenyans ranging from tour operators, tour guides, travel agencies, safari driver, dancers, hoteliers, restaurateurs, small business operators to airport and airline personnel. Subsequently, there was a significant increase in unemployment as many Kenyans lost their jobs. Employees that were still employed received salary cuts. For instance, at the Carnivore restaurant; all of the 330 staff had their salaries reduced, including Dunford the chairman (National Geographic 2010).
The bombing of the US Embassy had a massive impact on Kenya’s infrastructure. The Embassy was stationed at the crossroads of two streets in Nairobi, adjacent to the Ufundi Building and the Co – op Bank Building. The explosion destroyed these three buildings and other buildings and amenities within a two to three block radius.( ) The rubble consisted of broken glass from windows, window frames, furniture and fixtures, concrete block walls, cars, buses, electric poles, street lights and the list goes on. The transportation sector within Kenya suffered major setbacks as the streets were seriously damaged and likewise vehicles. Additional problems surfaced as resources (medical) were delayed as it was difficult to get in and around Nairobi. Access was restricted to rescue and emergency personnel. Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, was known for its many tourist attractions but these business operations declined as a result of the bombing. With the loss of power and telecommunication, tour operators, travel agencies and hotels were unable to update their websites or communicate with potential visitors who would usually book their reservations, tours or tickets online.
Another hindrance to Kenya’s tourism industry in light of the terrorist attacks is the slump in foreign direct investment (FDI). Investors were inclined to nullify their FDI in Kenya due to some of the ‘shocks’ felt by the terrorist attack such as the direct destruction of infrastructure, the rise of operating costs due to an increasing need of security measures, and the rise of recruiting costs due to missing incentives to work in terrorism – prone regions. ( ). This further contributed to the loss of revenue specifically for tourism development initiatives.
An important issue on the agenda of Kenya’s government to combat terrorism is now the introduction of more security. The notion about safety is not confined to the citizens of Kenya alone but is extended to the tourist as well. For this purpose, government spending had to be diverted from productive investment designed to promote growth, eradicate poverty and sustain tourism development. ( ) Expenditure on high tech security equipment such as surveillance cameras, metal detectors and screening machines had to be implemented as strategies to counteract terrorism.
Kenya’s financial costs continued to escalate in aftermath of the terrorist attack as more funding was required for the cleanup, restoration and reconstruction of the infrastructure, buildings and other amenities destroyed in the blast including tourists’ facilities. As an illustration,
Similarly, another expense incurred is that of extensive advertising to attract more and new tourists to Kenya. This strategy was employed to portray Kenya as a once again safe place and to neutralize the negative media attention received after the bombing.
Apart from the above mentioned negative effects of terrorism on Kenya’s tourism industry, some positive effects were identified. With the decrease in tourist arrivals to Kenya, domestic tourism was being promoted. Locals provided a portion of revenue needed to sustain some tourism businesses. Likewise, a new ‘must see’ tourist attraction was developed. The August 7th Memorial Park was constructed on the site where the US Embassy was once situated. This memorial was built to commemorate the lives that were lost and represents a tribute to the courage of the several thousand others who have had to cope with permanent injury and/or the loss of loved ones. It is a place where people come to reflect, remember and relax. ( )
With regard to the Kenya’s transit route region, terrorism is no exception. The airline industry was also hit hard after the terrorist attack on the US Embassy.
Cancellation of flights
Merging of airlines to survive
Closure of some airlines
Loss of revenue
Increase security surveillance
Cruise ships no longer include Kenya on their route
Increase cost of ticket to visit country with terrorism
DISCUSSION ON KENYA’S RESPONSE TO IMPACT OF TERRORISM (20 MARKS)
There is a need for the development of an anti-terrorism legislation in Kenya: following the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Kenya the government recognized that there were no adequate measures in place to deal with such acts and therefore the need to develop and implement legislation to deal with terrorism was essential. According to Kenya’s Counter Terrorism committee, the Government on two occasions made attempts to implement such laws with the ‘Suppression of Terrorism Bill’ in 2003 and the ‘Anti-Terrorism Bill in 2006 respectively. However, both bills failed to be introduced to parliament. (Google 2010)
There is also a need for revamped management policies to be set in place for Kenya’s border line and costal security control. (Google 2010) also stated that the need for heightened security is vital in these areas, for example: the border between Kenya and Somalia poses a great threat to Kenyan nationals and tourist due to fact that Somalia has been without a government of over sixteen years and is known to be politically unstable. This can be done by putting measures in place such as; heightened security checks for persons entering Kenya through Somalia, denial of entry for suspicious entrants and denial to unnecessary travelers especially during the peak tourist seasons. Proper execution of security in these areas may allow tourist’s to feel safer and therefore increase overall tourist visits to Kenya.
The tourism board of Kenya could try to mitigate some of the negative impacts of the past terrorism attacks on the country by recreating a new image for the destination. Though terrorism would ultimately have a devastating impact on any country being affected, repositioning Kenya in the minds of tourists and other tourists’ destination by focusing on the positives rather than the negative aspects of terrorism can aid in the process of moving forward. An example of this is the use of the US Embassy bombing as a memorial site where locals and tourists can visit.
There needs to be a crisis management portfolio that distinguishes terrorism from other forms of crisis. It should also outline in detail the measures that should be implemented before and after such a crisis. Then the portfolio should assist in painting a clear and clutter free process that should be followed after an act of terrorism to facilitate a timely recovery for Kenya’s image. Because terrorism has so severely tarnished the image of Kenya’s tourism product it is very crucial that only specified and highly qualified individuals should address the public and medias issues. Therefore, the portfolio will also outline all individuals that should be involved in this process with clearly defined roles and objectives.
The tourism board of Kenya could try to mitigate some of the negative impacts of the past terrorism attacks on the country by creating a new image for the destination. Though terrorism would ultimately have a devastating impact on any country being affected, repositioning Kenya in the minds of tourists and other tourists’ destination by focusing on the positives rather than the negative aspects of terrorism can aid in the process of moving forward. An example of this is the use of the US Embassy bombing as a memorial site where locals and tourists can visit. With repositioning in mind the tourism board can also shift some of their attention to local tourist by packaging their offerings in such a way that would be attractive to the local population.
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