Boats moored on a beach at dawn on Lamu island on Kenya's east coast
Nairobi (AFP) - Britain has relaxed travel warnings for Kenya's Indian Ocean coast, a key tourist region critical to the country's economy.
Restrictions put in place in March due to fears of attacks by the Somali-led Shebab insurgents along most of the coast were lifted late Thursday by London's Foreign Office.
However, the Lamu coastal region, which borders Somalia, is still subject to travel warnings.
"There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping," the Foreign Office statement warned. "The main threat comes from extremists linked to Al-Shebab, a militant group that has carried out attacks in Kenya in response to Kenya's military intervention in Somalia."
Tourism is critical to East Africa's largest economy, generating some 11 percent of the gross domestic product and accounting for up to 10 percent employment, according to Kenya Tourism Board.
Travellers from Britain are one of largest nationalities to Kenya, with 117,000 visiting in 2014.
Kenyan troops crossed into Somalia in 2011 to fight the Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, and later joined the African Union force, AMISOM, which is supporting Somalia's internationally-backed government.
The Shebab have since stepped up their operations in Kenya, dealing a blow to plans for the troops to serve as a buffer and protect the long, porous border.
The Foreign Office still advises against "all but essential travel" to within 60 kilometres (40 miles) of the Kenya-Somali border, as well as to Garissa county, where Shebab gunman launched a deadly attack on a university in April.
The massacre, Kenya's deadliest attack since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, claimed the lives of 142 students, three police officers and three soldiers.
Shebab fighters also carried out the Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi in September 2013, a four-day siege which left at least 67 people dead.
In Nairobi, visitors are warned against visiting only the city's largely ethnic Somali district of Eastleigh.