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Tour firms meet to decide on Kenya holidays

Operators likely to suspend trips after violence

Elephants by a river

Addo Elephant National Park

Thousands of people could miss out on dream sand-and-safari holidays because of the worsening situation in Kenya, holiday companies said today.

The UK’s Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) was meeting today and was likely to announce that all packages to Kenya would be suspended.

The FTO was also considering whether the 7,000 Britons already holidaying in the strife-torn East African country should come home early.

Foreign Office advice

The FTO meeting follows a change of travel advice by the Foreign Office (FO) late on Wednesday night.

The FO is now advising against all but essential travel to Kenya and warning Britons already in the country to exercise extreme caution.

The FO also warned holidaymakers to stay away from political gatherings such as the one planned by Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga today in Nairobi.

Thomas Cook

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for stability following the disputed election result in Kenya and the resulting violence that has left about 300 people dead.

One of the companies that has holidaymakers in Kenya is Thomas Cook whose spokeswoman Bronwen Griffiths said today: ‘We have had no reports of any of our customers wanting to come home, but now that the Foreign Office policy has changed, tour operators might change their policy too.’

Frances Tuke, spokeswoman for travel organisation Abta, said: ‘Usually when the Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to a country, holidays there do not go ahead.

‘It’s likely that there will not be any holidaymakers going out to Kenya for the next few days and it will have to be decided what happens to those already having trips there.’

Diplomatic mission

Mr Brown has thrown his weight behind a mooted African Union diplomatic mission led by Ghana president John Kufuor.

However, hopes that the visit will go ahead seemed to be fading.

Mr Brown said: ‘Millions of people queued up in Kenya to cast their vote. They deserve a government that brings about stability and prosperity. They deserve to have a government that respects the will of the people.

‘Any election irregularities have got to be properly investigated and I think it is very important now that we do our bit and we do what we can to bring about reconciliation and unity in the country, and particularly at this moment when we have seen such appalling and horrific and completely unjustifiable violence.’

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