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Hoteliers reap big with 20th Edition of Lamu Cultural Festival » Capital News



LAMU, Kenya, Nov 26 – Hoteliers in Lamu are set to reap big following a huge turnout of local and international tourists, with the comeback of the 20th Edition of the Lamu Cultural Festival.

The 4-day Lamu Cultural Festival is hailed as the holy grail of Lamu’s tourism and festival calendar due to the number of tourists who usually flock to the World Heritage Site for the showcase and allure of Swahili culture.

According to the Lamu County Tourism Department, it is estimated that the return of the Lamu Cultural Festival after the past two year’s break following the COVID-19 crisis, will bring great tides in terms of the economy of the county. The crisis saw a decline in tourists and a lockdown on the county’s festival calendar,

Many guests have had to resort to seeking accommodation from Lamu Island residents, with some home owners making room for guests due to the high demand for accommodation during the Lamu Cultural Festival.

Lamu calendar of events include the famed Lamu Yoga Festival, as well as Eid-Ul-Adha, Maulid festival, food and expo Festival, Lamu fishing competition and Lamu painters and Hat expo.

Speaking to the media yesterday during the first day of the Festival, Lamu Palace Hotel Manager, Keziah Mumbi stated that the hotel is fully booked throughout the festival period and hailed the comeback of the festival calendar as a boon for tourism, which she noted had significantly declined in recent years.

“Most of the hotels in Lamu, had resorted to subsidizing or closing down their hotels during the low season, but with the return of the Lamu festival calendar, we expect our establishments to remain operation and viable throughout the year,” she said.

Sentiments echoed by Lamu Floating Bar and Restaurant owner and Lamu Tourism Association Vice Chairperson, Fridah Njeri, who further revealed that hoteliers as well as holiday makers have expressed optimism with the comeback of the Lamu Cultural Festival which she said has seen a marked increase in guests, especially on the domestic front.

“Lamu is slowly shedding its reputation as a security operational area and slowly transforming itself as a unique tourist hub due to its festival calendar,” she said, adding that she has also seen an increase of guests flocking to her establishment.

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Baji Kalume, a hotelier and AirBnB operator in Lamu, also stated that his rooms are full with booking running up to early January next year.

“The boon in tourist numbers is a welcome gift for many hoteliers who have in the past had to let go of numerous staff, leading to more poverty among communities that depend on the tourism sector,” he said.

Omar Bakari, popularly known among the tourist guide community as “Black Coffee” due to his dark complexion also hailed the return of the festival calendar, stating that the increase in guests within Amu Island, has led to the revival and establishment of Lamu festival calendar.

“We have full flight bookings from Mombasa and Nairobi, and we hope that the Lamu Cultural Festival can provide us with the right momentum to maintain our passenger numbers.

Lamu’s Department of Tourism Director, Ali Ahmed, stated that the County Government was working closely with hoteliers, to ensure that they stay afloat throughout the year.

“Tourism is one of the highest earners in Lamu and a major job creator after fishing and agriculture and therefore the county government will support initiatives aimed at ensuring the sector thrives,” he said.

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