Harriet James @harriet86jim
Hotels and other accommodation facilities in Lamu geared up for the roaring business as thousands of local and international participants flocked to the iconic island for Christmas and New Year festivities.
Most hotels have recorded a high number of hotel bookings since the December season began. “We were fully booked from December 25 till January 4,” says Lemmy Mwalwala, Assistant manager, Kijani Hotel.
The hotel has received guests both local as well as international guests from the UK, Germany, US, France, Switzerland and other countries.
According to assistant manager Fatuma Towers, Joseph Kui, the large number of tourists visiting Lamu proves that tourists are gaining confidence in the region once again. “Compared to the previous years, there is a notable difference in terms of the number of guests,” he says.
Most visitors to Lamu Island fall in love with its relaxed and peaceful lifestyle. Lamu Old Town has a unique, cultural heritage passed down for over 700 years, an attribute that earned Lamu Island a place in the coveted Unesco’s List of World Heritage Sites in 2001.
The recent challenges which include the 2014 Al-Shabaab terror attacks, as well as the 2017 elections, had resulted in low number of tourists to Lamu. A number of governments in the west issued travel advisories to their citizens which greatly affected tourism to the North Coast.
However, with most international countries such a France lifting the ban, more and more tourists have settled to spend their vacation in this quiet, little island at the Coast. “They prefer this place because it’s different in terms of its history, our beaches, security and privacy,” says Mwalwala.
In addition, through military operations like ‘Linda Boni’ – which aims to flush out Al-Shabaab militants from Boni forest – safety has been restored in the region.
The upcoming Yoga and Lamu festivals, which have been held for the past two years, have made the world know about this historic island. Such events are designed to boost local skills or practices central to Lamu life.
Tourists have the chance to experience life in Lamu at its most exuberant and joyous. As the Lamu locals say in Kiswahili, “LamuTamu” (meaning Lamu is Sweet).