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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

US eases travel warning to Kenya

NAIROBI - In a move that could boost the tourism sector that was adversely affected by the post-election violence, the United States has relaxed its travel warning to Kenya.

The US Department of State says the move follows the signing of a power sharing deal between President Mwai Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga that ended weeks of violence in the country. "Threats of political demonstrations and violence have dramatically receded following the widely accepted power-sharing agreement signed on February 29", the statement said. It said it was further reviewing the resumption of US Peace Corps programme through which volunteers travel abroad to work in various fields to help the host country. The programme was suspended in February this year following the skirmishes that erupted after the December 27 polls. The Department however cautions its citizens to be careful and be on the lookout for crime prone areas.

Meanwhile, Kenyans have taken up offers by some hotels of reduced charges to visit the tourist sites in a move that was welcomed by the operators in the tourism industry. Some hotels in Naivasha had to hire tents to accommodate guests following an influx of tourists who celebrated Easter there. Many hotels had special packages for the Easter festivities resulting in more local tourists visiting the town.Hoteliers expressed optimism that the industry was now picking after the adverse effects of post election clashes. Lake Naivasha Country Club General Manager Gomery Kombo said the hotel was fully booked forcing them to refer some guests to other hotels. He said a 20% reduction in rates had brought in more tourists.

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