ForwardKeys’ opinion is based on an analysis of the attack on the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi in 2013 and its experience of analysing similar terrorist incidents.
The 2013 terror attack had a clear and immediate impact on both international flight bookings and physical arrivals, but the effects faded after about 6 weeks. The Westgate siege started on Saturday 21st September. During the first week (21-27 Sept), international bookings to Kenya dropped by 64.6%. This negative trend continued until the week of 19th October. During this 6 week-period, international bookings were 29.0% lower than in the equivalent period the year before. However, bookings picked-up in November; for the period 26th-October to 29th November, they grew 3.5% benchmarked against the same period in 2012.
With regard to international arrivals in Kenya, the impact was less. They started to drop from September 24th and the trend continued until October 5th. Over this 12-day period, international arrivals decreased by 9.3%. However, for the rest of the month (6-31 October) arrivals grew by 5.4%.
Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, said: “Of course it is likely that had the attack on Westgate been foiled in advance, there would have been no setbacks in bookings and arrivals and the growth in tourism would have continued even more strongly. However, the bottom line is that within less than two weeks, tourism to Kenya returned to growth. By comparison with the Westgate attack, fortunately fewer people have died and the siege ended more quickly, which means that the incident has received far less media attention. It is also significant that all the terrorists have been killed because the possibility of the same perpetrators striking again has been eliminated. However, if there were to be another similar attack, or spate of attacks, in the near future, as happened in Istanbul in 2015, our assessment could change.”