Garissa University massacre
Students were evacuated from the Garissa University after terrorists killed 148 people AFP / Getty Images

Dozens of tourists are cancelling their trips to Kenya following the Garissa University College massacre in which 148 people were killed by Somali terror group al-Shabaab.

The militants, who later claimed responsibility for the attack, said that the people were murdered as the university "is on Muslim land colonised by non-Muslims".

Who are the al-Shabaab militants?

Al-Shabaab, which means "The Youth", is a Somali terror group affiliated with al-Qaeda.

An off-shoot of the Islamic Courts Union – a rival administration to the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia – al-Shabaab aims to overthrow the Somali government and impose its own version of Islam in the country.

It controlled Mogadishu and the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when it was defeated by African Union peacekeepers.

The attack shocked the international community, highlighting once again the problem of terrorism in Somalia and Kenya.

Al-Shabaab aims to overthrow the current Somali regime and end what the group perceives as an unjust occupation of Somali land by Kenyan troops, deployed in 2011.

The insurgents often carry out attacks in neighbouring Kenya killing dozens of people and negatively impacting local tourism, a big source of income for the country.

Countries such as the US and Britain have several times issued travel warnings with hoteliers saying that they are witnessing a surge in cancellations.

Mohammed Hersi, a veteran Kenyan hotelier and chair of the Kenya Coast Tourism Association, told Reuters: "The Garissa attack simply sealed our fate."

Reuters also warned that the Kenyan shilling weakened due to an "expected downturn in the key tourism sector" after the Garissa attack.

"Central bank was in the market, managed to slow down the weakening, though the trend looks weaker as we progress," a senior trader at one commercial bank said. "With the terrorist attack we have a further slide on tourism; more cancellations, more travel advisories. That sector is going to really slow down."

Kenyan tourism has been declining since 2013, following the Westgate mall attack in which 67 people were killed during a four-day-long siege.