Governor challenges organizers to elevate Lamu fiesta to global standard
The Lamu County Governor, Fahim Twaha has urged the Lamu Cultural Promotion group (LCPG) to increase the number of events for the Lamu Cultural Festival to improve the event’s profile globally.
“We need to boost the events that we already have to make the Lamu Cultural Festival a world class event,” the governor Twaha stated.
This is the 17th Edition of the Lamu Cultural Festival that dates back to 2000 when it was first organised by the Lamu Cultural Promotion Group.
Speaking during a luncheon on Saturday November 18, 2017 in Lamu Island on the third day of the annual Lamu Cultural Festival Twaha stated that despite the harsh economic times LCPG were still able to host a worthy event that attracted more than 40,000 visitors which has experienced an upsurge in local tourists.
According to sources in Lamu County the county has estimated that at least 30,000 visitors are attending the 17th Edition of the Lamu Cultural Festival.
Twaha added that with tourism being the second most important trade after fishing the county government is keen to develop infrastructure to improve accessibility to other areas within Lamu such as Takwa ruins in Manda which are rarely visited by tourists despite their obvious appeal.
“The Lamu Cultural Festival has been a boost to our tourism sector which has in the past few years been dealt a blow by the travel advisories and media reports on the Al Shabaab an attack that has also led to the government imposing dusk to dawn curfew in some areas in Lamu,” Twaha stated.
He also commended the police for strengthening security during the Festival in a bid to ensure safety for both domestic and foreign tourists.
“It has been a tough year for Lamu, especially with the attacks, which fortunately have not dented the Lamu Cultural event,” the governor said.
The Acting Tourism County Executive, Fahima Arafat stated that the county government had played its part to ensure that the event was a success despite the lack of adequate funding from corporate sponsorship.
There had been fears that the Lamu Cultural Festival would be a low key event this year due to the event having a Sh. 8.4 million shortfall in its budget.
She however, said that the festival had been a boon for the Island since the informal sector has benefited from it.
“Catering groups, tour guides, boat operators, hotels and lodges as well as shops have made a killing the past three days which should be a good precursor for the Maulid Festival which comes in December,” Fatma said.
However, Lamu Palace Hotel General Manager, Keziah Mumo noted despite the fanfare over the carnival, business has been relatively slower this year compared to last year when they were operating at full capacity and outsourcing to other hotels around the Archipelago.
“Our bed capacity this year stands at 70 per cent, which is a reduced return in comparison to last year, when we were operating at 100 percent occupancy,” Mumo stated.
She further noted that most guests were opting to stay in residential houses of friends and relatives this time and still enjoy the fete.
By Amenya Ochieng