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News & Advice

Kenya travel warning, plus the lowdown on redundancy cover for holidays

Q&A: Travel unravelled

Q. We have booked to go to Mombasa in July for a week's safari and a week's beach holiday. How concerned should I be at the new security alert? Should I cancel? Marc Grant, Ilford

A. Halfway through last weekend, the Foreign Office took the unusual step of issuing a travel warning to Kenya, saying that terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks in the capital, Nairobi: "We strongly advise British nationals to exercise extra vigilance" especially in "places where expatriates and foreign travellers gather, such as hotels, shopping centres and beaches".

Kenya is no stranger to terrorist attacks. In 1998 suicide bombers attacked the US Embassy and more than 200 people died. A decade ago, an attack on an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombasa killed 13 people, while a simultaneous missile attack on an Israeli charter plane failed.

Holidaymakers are already warned to avoid the coast near the Somalian border after two attacks on tourists last year.

Having said all that, Kenya is a wonderful destination for beaches and wildlife, and I would not hesitate to make the trip. The specific intelligence refers to Nairobi and I imagine you are not planning to go near the capital. Also, since the Foreign Office stops well short of advising against travel, you would lose your deposit – and, if you cancel nearer the time, a bigger proportion of the holiday cost.


Q. I'm thinking of booking a package holiday. Are these "Redundancy Protection" offers worthwhile? Robert James, Northampton

A. That depends. A number of tour operators offer the right to cancel your holiday with a full refund if you get made redundant. In these difficult economic times, that sounds like a valuable benefit. But read the small print: you need to have been in the same full-time job for two years. If, before you booked the trip, your employer had announced that redundancies were on the way, you don't qualify – even if you had no reason to believe your job was to go. And should you be unfortunate enough to get made redundant less than four weeks before departure, there is no right to cancel and get a refund.