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Kenya tourism defies attacks

By CNN's Ben Wedeman

Tour operators claim few tourists have made cancellations
Tour operators claim few tourists have made cancellations

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MOMBASA, Kenya (CNN) -- Despite the recent bomb attack on a hotel in Mombasa which killed 13 people, Kenyan tourism seems to be unaffected for the moment.

June and Colin Stitt from Scotland, who married on the Kenyan coast, are not going to let a bombing just up the road spoil their honeymoon.

"The staff here made sure everybody didn't have any concerns, and they felt safe about security at the main gate, so we felt safe," the groom told CNN's Ben Wedeman.

Though only a week after the bombing of the Paradise Hotel, the atmosphere is calm among foreign tourists visiting the country.

A British tourist explained: "We think that the incident was isolated, it was targeted specifically at Israelis. We recognize that Britain is becoming increasingly more of a target but I think in this particular case we were OK."

More than half a million tourists visited Kenya in 2001. Around sixty percent came to the coast -- Israelis make up just one percent of the market.

And while the bombing sent shockwaves around the world, tourism to Kenya doesn't appear to have been shaken, yet.

"As I speak now, especially for our European business which is predominantly the main market for Mombasa -- the Kenyan coast -- cancellations are very marginal. It is nothing to be alarmed about. What we don't know as yet is how it will affect our new bookings," a tour operator told CNN.

The Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, where the bomb attack there killed 13 people
The Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, where the bomb attack there killed 13 people

Holidaymakers' initial fears were calmed, and now it seems to be back to business as usual, as one local hotel manager said: "After reassuring them they continued with their holiday without any fear at all. We haven't had anyone leaving prematurely, at the same time we haven't had any cancellations at all."

While the inland offers safaris, the coast draws Europeans looking for a welcome, warm and sunny respite from the cold, grey, northern winters.

Others are drawn by Africa's mystique. A mystique which Kenyans hope will guarantee tourists don't set sail for other destinations.



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