The United States Government has scrapped a travel advisory for its citizens travelling to Kenya and instead, called on them to exercise increased caution.
The US State Department on in its Wednesday announcement said they are scrapping travel warnings for specific countries and instead launching a four-level travel advisory programme.
In the new programme, Kenya has been placed in the second tier under the new system whereby any US citizen visiting Kenya is required to be “extremely cautious.”
State Department official Michelle Bernier-Toth said as quoted by Business Daily that, “Over the years, we’ve come to recognize that sometimes our various documents were not readily understood.”
She added: “We also needed to make sure that the information was more easily understood, putting it into plain language, making it clearer why we were ranking countries, why we were citing them as a threat or a risk.”
Bernier-Toth explained that even with this new development, the method of assessing travel risks has not changed.
The US issues its advisories based on information from intelligence agencies, US embassies and host countries’ governments according to the acting deputy assistant secretary for overseas citizens’ services.
In the new system, the State Department calls for advisory against travel to the Kenya-Somalia border and some coastal areas due to terrorism.
These areas are Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Lamu, Malindi and parts of Kilifi County.
Also, US citizens have been cautioned against visiting Nairobi’s Eastleigh area and Mombasa’s Old Town.
“Consider carefully whether to use the Likoni ferry in Mombasa due to safety concerns,” reads the advisory in part.
The new changes come amid the launch of direct flights from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport.
The maiden flight from Nairobi to New York will begin in October 28. Tickets are already up for sale with the that for the economy class going for Sh89, 000.
US citizens are the biggest contributors to Kenya’s Tourism industry with an estimated 100, 000 US nationals visiting Kenya annually.
African countries given a Level Four Travel Advisory equal to “Do Not Travel” are Mali, Central African Republic besides warring countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq.
Burundi is classified under Level Three destination whereby, US Citizens are urged to “reconsider travel” given the country has reported cases of armed conflict.
Rwanda is the only African Country given a Level One destination meaning US Citizens are urged to exercise normal precautions.