Lamu, KENYA: The annual 16th edition of this year’s Lamu Cultural Festival came to an end on Sunday with hoteliers and traders recording surplus profits during the four day fete that kicked off on Thursday.
The huge profits have been attributed to the influx of both foreign and local guests who flocked the archipelago for the cultural festival.
The festival is held each year with the key objective of showcasing and selling the centuries old rich Swahili culture of the Lamu people to the world.
This year’s festival was one of its kind having attracted the highest number of guests with the numbers being projected at over 100,000.
The fete also saw Lamu island experience an accommodation crisis with many hoteliers having their rooms fully booked by the first day of the festival.
Lamu traders were happy that this year’s festival had brought in profits never witnessed before since Lamu began holding various festivals.
“The last festival wasn’t anything close to what we are seeing now. This time all hotel rooms are booked. Am made to understand that some guests had to find accommodation on the mainland after it became clear that all hotels on the island were booked to the brim,”said Ali Bunu,proprietor of the prestigious SunSail Hotel.
Acting Lamu County Trade, Culture and Tourism Executive Khamis Kaviha expressed his delight on the 2016 Lamu cultural festival and said it was very successful; since having attracted a huge number of both domestic and international visitors compared to the previous years.
“We hope to regain our lost tourism glory through such festivals and make our tourist sites attractive to the world. We have already achieved our target of branding Lamu town an ‘Island of Festivals.’ We want to raise the profile of the lovely enhancing island and attract more visitors even in the future,” said Kaviha.
The County’s tourism was badly affected in 2014 following a spate of terror attacks and threats and the subsequent imposition of travel advisories from major European source markets.
“The year round festivals will offer visitors the opportunity to explore the archipelago and ‘discover what makes Lamu truly unique,”he said.
Lamu Old Town is a unique and rare historical living heritage with more than 700 years of continuous settlement and was declared a World Heritage Site in 2001 by UNESCO.
Lamu Cultural Festival Promotional Group Chairman who is also the proprietor of the Bush Gardens Seafront Restaurant Ghalib Alwy, declared the 2016 Cultural event a ‘massive success’ adding that shops, cafes, pubs and hotels have greatly benefited.
“I am impressed by the 16th edition of the Lamu Cultural Festival. It has seen most traders incurring huge profits including myself,” said Alwy.
The week long event featured Swahili poetry, traditional dances, Henna paintings, the famous donkey race, dhow races, swimming competition and the Swahili bridal ceremony among other activities that were aimed at promoting the unique Swahili culture of the Lamu people.