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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 17:23 GMT
UK-Kenya charter flights halted
Diani beach, Mombassa, Kenya
Most British tourists visit big game parks or to luxury beach resorts
All UK charter flights to Kenya have been suspended up to and including next Monday, 14 January, the Federation of Tour Operators has said.

The suspension comes amid continuing Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel to the country.

About 600 people have died in unrest which followed last month's disputed presidential election in the East African country.

In addition to those killed, some 250,000 are feared displaced.

The suspension will remain in place until at least next Tuesday.

'Flying out empty'

FTO spokesman Graham Lancaster said: "Planes will be flying out empty to bring back people who were due to finish their holidays over the next few days."

A decision on charter flights due to fly to Kenya from the UK later next week will be made in the next few days, he said.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Kenya Airways have continued to operate scheduled services between the UK and Kenya since the trouble erupted.

But charter flights have not taken any passengers from the UK to Kenya for over a week.

Violence has mainly been confined to urban areas which British tourists tend to avoid, as most visit the big game parks or luxury Indian Ocean beach resorts.

Lost tourism

But they have to pass through Nairobi and Mombasa.

There will soon be few Britons left holidaying in Kenya if the charter ban continues.

It is estimated that Kenya, which depends on tourism, has lost up to 500 million during the turmoil.

Jake Grieves-Cook, spokesman for the Kenya Tourism Federation, said the image of Kenya had changed from "giraffes, welcoming people and stability" to "the lunatic with a machete sharpening it on the road".

UK tour operators are also suffering as they are having to refund some holidaymakers for whom no alternative destinations are found or desired.

Talks conducted by Ghanaian President John Kufuor to end Kenya's political crisis have broken down, opposition and government sources have said.

Mr Kufuor had been hoping to broker a deal between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga after the elections.

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