Leaving Kenya: Tourists brand it an 'over-reaction'

Image copyright AP
Image caption British tourists, pictured at Moi International Airport in Mombasa, are expected to be flown out by Monday

About 400 British tourists are being evacuated from parts of Kenya, following a warning by the Foreign Office of a "high threat" from terrorists in the country.

Tour operators Thomson and First Choice have cancelled all flights to Mombasa until October and said holidaymakers would be flown back as a precautionary measure.

Some holidaymakers have already returned to Gatwick, and while a number of them were reportedly "in good form", others were not happy to have their holiday cut short.

Chris and Tracy Jones said they believed the decision to evacuate tourists had been an over-reaction.

Image caption Chris Jones said authorities were overreacting

"I've worked in other areas where there are terrorist problems," Mr Jones said.

"This has been going on for years - this is not a one-off incident. There have been incidents throughout the world but do they stop flights to Saudi Arabia, do they stop flights to other places? No they don't."

His wife said she thought Thomson had brought people back "too early" and that the situation in Kenya did not seem "that bad".

"Coming through Mombasa Island, which is where there was meant to have been the most threat over there, I didn't think it was that bad," Mrs Jones said.

Image caption Tracy Jones questioned why Thomson decided to fly British tourists home

Chris Houckham-West from London was evacuated on Thursday evening. He and his husband were supposed to stay at a resort in Mombasa until Tuesday.

'Over the top'

He said the Kenyan people were "surprised" about what was happening.

"We had a great time. We didn't feel unsafe at any point - when we went on safari there was security in place," Mr Houckham-West added.

"I think the FCO's stance is all a bit strange - it changed and suddenly we had to get out of the country. It seemed to be a bit over the top."

Image caption Mr Houckham-West (left) and his husband were evacuated on Thursday
Image copyright AP
Image caption Passengers waiting to catch flights from the airport in Mombasa were said to have "no food or water"

Alex Dolphin, from Surrey, who also arrived back on Friday morning, said it was not until he and other holidaymakers were being evacuated that he felt uncomfortable.

"I didn't feel uneasy until we were in a convoy of three coaches parked on the roadside waiting to leave for the airport," he told the BBC.

"I was keeping an eye open as we drove through Mombasa. It was a strange situation to be in."

Meanwhile, Kerrie Gardiner was stuck at Moi International Airport in Mombasa waiting for a flight back to the UK.

'We know nothing'

Image caption Bob Pever said he spent nine days in Kenya

Originally from Milton Keynes, she said there was no staff at the Thomson desk and that tourists were not being kept informed.

"We have family calling us because they are worried, and I just want to get back home to my two children," she said.

"We can't check in and we are just sitting here with no food or water, watching other people catching their flights.

"I've been to Kenya in 2009 and have not had any problems - so we just don't understand what is going on. We know nothing - we're not being informed."

Back at Gatwick, Barry Jackson said everyone involved in his flight out of Mombasa had been "very kind" and some were "happy to be back".

Image caption Judy Sharp said she was "disappointed" to leave

"The captain asked us would we please be kind to the poor stewardesses on the plane, because they had a rough time," he added.

"They were meant to be off, instead they were working. Nobody said boo, everybody was very kind, very stiff upper lip. It had to be done."

Bob Pever told the BBC on Friday that he was "disappointed" to be leaving Kenya after spending nine days on holiday with his family.

And his views were echoed by fellow UK tourist Judy Sharp who was returning to the UK at the same time as Mr Pever.

She said: "It's such a shame that we have to cut our holiday short because of other people."

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