Following the attack on the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi Kenya on Saturday September 21, 2013 we wish to update you as follows:
We join Kenyans and the world in extending our sympathies and support to the bereaved families of those who lost their lives and others injured or otherwise affected by this tragic event.
The 4-day standoff at the Westgate Mall has been contained and seems to have come to conclusion. All indications are that the attack was not aimed at tourists; the al-Shabaab terrorist organization claimsretaliation directed at the Kenyan government for Kenya's military incursions across its distant eastern border with Somalia.
Like similar events we have witnessed in India, Britain and Spain that were also aimed to instill fear in the local and global community, we know that Kenyans will not be deterred from living an open and peaceful life, and like in the US, Britian, Spain, India and other countries, additional security measures will be taken to protect its citizens and foreign visitors. In the days, weeks and months ahead we will continue to monitor the safety of travel in Kenya and East Africa for those Wildland travelers currently in the region and others planning to travel.
Over the past several years there have been ongoing small-scale, isolated attacks in Kenya involving shootings, kidnappings explosions and politically-motivated violent uprisings that have not affected tourism. We always avoid less secure neighborhoods, crowded places, resorts and clubs on a Wildland Adventure. Foreigners who have been impacted are typically expatriates living in the country or travelers unaccompanied by local guides and responsible in-country tour operators. Over the past few years hundreds of Wildland travelers have been safe and sound on safari throughout East Africa. The US State Department has not changed its July 5, 2013 US State Department Travel Advisory stating that there are no restrictions on travel to Kenya's popular tourist destinations such as Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, Tsavo, Lamu Island, Samburu, Mt Kenya, and Nairobi.
We are in contact with our guides, safari outfitters and accommodations providers throughout Kenya who have reported that tourism services are normal on the ground and guests presently in-country are enjoying their safaris. This morning we received a personal email from Wildland traveler, Susan Marks, who was in Nairobi during the attack and sent the following message to us from Amboseli National Park assuring us she was safe and plans to continue her safari: "We all know about the attack which happened the day I was seeing things in Nairobi...Lots of security... but so far the trip has been amazing... Loving Ol donyo camp..."
We are also in contact with over 100 professional colleagues attending the International Ecotourism and SustainableTravel Conference presently meeting in Nairobi not far from the Westgate Mall. They report the presence of additional security which actually makes them feel as safe as they would have been before the attack occured. Many of them returned to Nairobi from pre-conference safaris throughout Kenya during the mall attack and all report that events at the Westgate Mall have not affected travel in the country.
These direct reports we have received correspond with a statement Monday, September 23 by Cabinet Secretary for Commerce and Tourism, Mrs Phylllis Kenadie, that ‘normal activities are going on in all parts of the country despite this grave and enormous challenge’ and that tourists are welcome.