Africa Bombings: State Dept. Warns; Trade Mulls Impact

WASHINGTON -- Following the Friday bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, the U.S. State Department issued warnings against travel to both countries.

Meanwhile, agents and operators specializing in Africa considered the impact on their business.

Travelogue International, an agency here that services many Africa-bound clients, said it had hunting groups in Tanzania. Although confident that the groups were far from the bomb blast in Dar-es-Salaam, Travelogue's Barbara Wolbrink said the firm was monitoring the situation closely. The incidents "could have more impact on Kenya than on Tanzania," Wolbrink speculated. "[It could] really screw up Kenya's photo safaris."

A spokesman for Abercrombie & Kent, one of the largest tour operators to Kenya, which is entering its tourism high season, said the firm has several tours "in the bush, and, at the moment, our tours are still operating." He said transfers from the Nairobi airport have been rerouted to avoid the site of the blast. The spokesman, reached prior to the State Department's warnings, said A&K would redirect traffic around Kenya in the event of a warning.

Dennis Pinto, managing director of New York-based Micato Safaris, said some of his clients were sightseeing in Nairobi about the time of the explosion but were not aware of the incident until they returned to their hotels. "[We've] given them an opportunity to contact their friends and family back here," Pinto said. "Our aim is to give people as much information as we know and that has seemed to keep everyone very calm."

Pinto said he expected little impact on tourism. "I don't see this being a situation that will trigger wide-scale cancellations," he said, adding that he had no cancellations for the seven tours slated to depart for Kenya on Friday.

More than 70 people were killed and hundreds injured in the two blasts. At press time, there were no reports of tourists being among the dead or injured.

The State Department set up a telephone number, (202) 647-0900, to handle urgent queries related to the American embassy bombing and travel to Kenya.

Michael Milligan and Michele McDonald contributed to this report.

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