Kenya travel warning: Are you affected?

Hundreds of British tourists are being evacuated from Kenya following Foreign Office warnings of a “high threat” of terrorism in the country.

Other foreign governments – including the USA, France and Australia – have issued similar alerts.

Some UK package holiday operators have cancelled all trips to the country and are flying their customers back to Britain as a “precautionary measure”, the BBC reports.

If you are currently in Kenya on holiday, or had planned to visit the country, here’s our advice on how you may be affected.

You should also keep up to date with the FCO’s official travel advisory on the country.

What’s the threat?

The main threat of terrorism in Kenya comes from extremists linked to the militant Al Shabaab group, according to the Foreign Office.

The group has carried out armed attacks in the country in response to Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.

Six British citizens were killed in the group’s September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.

A tip-off warning of a further attack may have been behind the Foreign Office’s latest warning of a high threat of terrorism, according to the BBC.

Which parts of the country are off limits?

Much of Kenya remains safe, according to the British government’s advice.

However, the FCO is advising against all but essential travel to Mombasa island and within 5km of the coast from Mtwapa creek in the north down to and including Tiwi in the south.

It also warns against travel to the island of Kiwayu, coastal areas north of Pate Island and the northern district of Garissa.

Warnings remain in place against visiting poor parts of Nairobi and the Eastleigh neighbourhood of the city, which has been targeted by Al Shabaab.

Unless you have an essential reason to be in any of these areas, you should leave, the FCO says.

The government also advises travellers to be vigilant in areas such as hotels, bars, restaurants and supermarkets frequented by foreigners, which have been targeted in attacks.

The FCO’s travel warning does not currently include the bulk of the country’s game reserves, Malindi, Diani Beach or Mombasa Airport.

I’ve booked a package holiday to Kenya – how am I affected?

That depends which company you booked with.

TUI/First Choice has taken the strongest action so far, cancelling all flights to Mombasa up until the end of the summer holiday season on October 31.

The company is also flying all of its customers currently holidaying in Kenya back to the UK. For more, information, see TUI’s latest travel news.

Virgin is contacting customers due to fly to Mombasa between now and June 30 “to discuss the options available”, the company says on its travel updates page.

Kuoni has cancelled all of its holidays to the Kenyan coast. It plans to update customers due to travel to the country within the next seven days and will continue to do so on a rolling basis until the FCO advice changes.

Customers booked to travel to the affected areas can cancel free of charge or book an alternative destination, Kuoni states.

You should contact your travel operator directly for its plans regarding Kenya and bear in mind that the impact on your holiday may change as the situation develops.

All travellers on ATOL packages should check with their operators whether they will be able to cancel or amend their dates free of charge or what it would cost to swap to an alternative destination.

I’m travelling independently – what should I do?

You may wish to amend your plans if you are travelling to Mombasa or other parts of Kenya covered by the government’s travel alert.

You would need to check with your airline and accommodation directly (or the booking company) to determine how your travel plans are affected.

If you cancel your trip you are likely to face losses from travel companies not offering free cancellation. Check your travel insurance in case you can claim for cancelled flights, accommodation or tours. However, this is unlikely because many insurers have a clause preventing claims due to civil unrest, revolutions or similar situations.

Alternatively, you could also try to negotiate with the travel companies concerned for a credit note or transfer to a later date if the trouble in Kenya settles down.

What if I travel regardless of the FCO advice?

If you decide to travel independently to parts of Kenya covered by the FCO alerts – despite the government’s advice – your insurance cover will be invalid from many insurers. Again, check before you travel.

Please note: All facts were correct at the time of writing.

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