* Hundreds of tourists quit Indian Ocean resorts
* Britain, U.S. alerts issued after series of attacks
* Tourism already "on its knees" - president
* Officials say visitors safe, know of no imminent threat
(Adds tourists' quotes, 2013 visitor arrivals)
By James Macharia
NAIROBI, May 15 Kenya rebuked Britain, the
United States, France and Australia on Thursday for issuing
warnings about travel to the east African country, while
hoteliers said at least 400 tourists had checked out of hotels
along the Indian Ocean coast.
Kenya called the alerts "unfriendly", saying they would
increase panic and play into the hands of those behind the gun
and grenade assaults that have hit the capital Nairobi and the
coastal resort of Mombasa.
Explosions in both cities on the weekend of May 3-4, one of
them at a luxury seaside hotel, killed seven people, although no
one was hurt in the hotel attack. Kenya blames the blasts on
the al Qaeda-linked Somali group al Shabaab.
The Islamist movement killed at least 67 people in a gun and
grenade raid on a Nairobi shopping mall last September, claiming
it as revenge for attacks on its fighters by Kenyan troops in
The warnings and departures by tourists from hotels along
the popular coast are further harming Kenya's tourism sector,
which President Uhuru Kenyatta has said is "on its knees"
following the deadly attacks.
Britain told its citizens to avoid Mombasa, and the United
States cited hotels, nightclubs and malls as possible targets.
Australia urged its citizens to reconsider trips to Nairobi
and Mombasa "due to the high threat of terrorist attack and high
level of crime". France warned of an elevated risk in Kenya,
especially in those cities.
Karanja Kibicho, principal secretary at Kenya's foreign
affairs department, said the advisories "are obviously
unfriendly acts", and assured tourists they were safe while
visiting the country.
Kenyan authorities say they have beefed up security after
the attacks, and deported foreigners without proper documents.
"The threats are perpetual, we are at war. But we have not
received any specific threat on the hotels," said Interior
Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka.
But tourists were still leaving. At least 400 checked out of
their hotels, heeding the travel advisories, according to Sam
Ikwaye of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers.
"We fear many more will leave," Ikwaye told Reuters.
Planes had been chartered to fly out the departing tourists.
Augustine Conall, a British national, told journalists at
the Moi International airport in Mombasa, he had cut short his
three-week holiday by a week, worried that his insurance would
no longer be valid.
"Our families are also worried and are calling us and
telling us to go back," he said.
Another Briton, Matilda Evan, said: "Six days of my holiday
have gone to waste just like that. But again, when your
government tells you to leave for security reasons, what else
can do you do?"
She was in Kenya for a third time, travelling with a group
of eight female friends. All were going back.
Tourist arrivals in Kenya fell 15.8 percent to 1.49 million
last year as security worries kept visitors away. Britain is the
country's biggest source of visitors.
Tourism is one of Kenya's biggest foreign exchange earners,
employing 150,000 people. Travel agents said they hoped other
destinations in the great Rift Valley and around Mount Kenya
would still attract visitors.
Western diplomats have privately said Kenyan security forces
- which receive aid and training from the United States, Britain
and Israel among others - are weakened by inter-agency rivalries
that hamper intelligence work.
(Additional reporting by Joseph Akwiri in Mombasa; Editing by