1. ITV Report

Kenyan resorts struggle without departed British tourists after bombings

A deserted hotel on Diani beach near Mombasa. Photo: ITV News/Kai Tabacek

Just a week after the Foreign Office warned against all but essential travel to parts of coastal Kenya, British tourists have become something of a rarity here.

Holidaying Britons, many of them travelling on packages with Thomson and First Choice, are a common feature in this part of Kenya.

But since Thursday, hundreds of them have been repatriated by their tour operators after a travel advisory warned of a "high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping".

It follows a series of fatal and attempted bombings in Mombasa and Nairobi, which Kenyan authorities have linked to al-Shabaab militants in neighbouring Somalia.

The deserted beaches and vacant loungers on Diani Beach, a popular destination just south of Mombasa, point to the recent evacuation.

Although this part of the coast was not included in the Foreign Office advisory, many tourists were left with no choice as their charter flights were cancelled.

The manager of Diani Sea Resort said he was hosting 140 Britons last week, accounting for almost 90 percent of all hotel guests. He said they all disappeared practically overnight when the travel advisory was issued.

"Some of them were crying - they were very disappointed," Kifalu Samson Masha told me. "If nothing happens … [until charter flights are resumed in November] many people are going lose their jobs, perhaps including me".

British tourists queue at the departure gate as they are evacuated from Mombasa. Credit: Reuters/Joseph Okanga

I walked the entire length of Diani's palm-fringed beach this week. The string of luxury resorts and beach bars are normally bustling, but I encountered less than a dozen Europeans, only three of them Britons.

One of them was Marianne Matthews from Ainsbury in Wiltshire. Just two months in to a year-long volunteer placement at a monkey sanctuary, she said she plans to stay. But her parents had been planning to come out on a Thomson holiday in July. "That's no longer on the cards," she added.

A woman on duty in the reception of a backpackers hostel looked shocked when she heard I was from the UK. "I thought everybody had left," she explained.

Hamese, one of the so-called beach boys who roam the sand selling local handicrafts, has taken to scavenging firewood to sell since the tourists left. "The life is very hard here. We depend on tourists," he added.

British holidaymakers normally keep the tourism industry alive during the rainy season in May and June, according to Betty, a park ranger at the Shimba Hills National Reserve. "Brits know how to do holidays," she added with a grin, as she mimed taking bank notes from a wallet.

The Foreign Office has since issued a clarification, explaining that it "does not enforce its travel advice" and that it is "for individuals and travel companies to make their own decisions".

Many foreign tourists left Kenya after a series of bombs in Nairobi and Mombasa. Credit: ITV News/Kai Tabacek

David and Elaine Pollock, British tourists from Whitstable in Kent, said they were not travelling with a tour operator "so we can make up our own minds [about security] on a day-by-day basis".

"We have spent a good portion of our time outside the danger zone," David added.

But while the absence of Britons is already keenly felt, the real test will come in July and August when the high season begins, bringing a vital influx of tourists.

One of Kenya's leading dailies, The Daily Nation, reported this week that at least 4,000 workers have already been laid off in the coastal region.

If the threat of terrorism casts its long shadow over the high season as well, the impact is likely to be far worse.