The big news in Nairobi the last day or so is the current threat of economic sanctions. First came word that the EU was threatening sanctions. Now Raila has decided that it seemed like a good idea and has put out a call for a boycott of companies with government connections. While international sanctions may help wake up the men in charge, they are more likely to hurt the people who are already suffering as a result of the elections and the violence that followed.
But the most immediate sanctions seem to be those issued by tourists. With the exception of aid workers and journalists, many hotels are virtually empty. To make matters worse, many tourists have cancelled planned trips to the area. And it isn’t just in Nairobi: safari lodges throughout the country are feeling the pinch caused by closed roads, cancelled reservations, and a lack of new visitors willing to “risk” the trip here. Many charter flights have cancelled formerly popular routes. In a bit of irony, we’ve seen ads on CNN in recent days from the Tanzanian tourism board, possibly in an attempt to siphon away those tourists who still want the amenities that Tanzania, like Kenya, also has on offer but without the political troubles of the latter.
Since tourism is one of the biggest industries here in Kenya, the lack of tourist dollars (euros and pounds) is going to hit a lot of people very hard. With that in mind, I have decided to start a five-part series about my recent trip to Amboselli. Barring anything radical occurring in the next few days, I am going to try to talk up this wonderful tourism hotspot in hopes that people will remember what a wonderful place this used to be and will be again once the “big boys” start putting Kenya first.