Stakeholders in Lamu raise alarm over beach operators mugging tourists

People walking on cabro pavements along a beach in Lamu. PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu,KENYA:Stakeholders in the tourism sector have expressed concern over increased cases of tourists being mugged by beach operators commonly known as beach boys in Lamu.

Speaking when they met in Lamu on Tuesday, the stakeholders said some of the beach operators had been luring unsuspecting tourists to deserted places where they rob them of all their valuables and cash.

Some of the beach operators are said to be using connish means to obtain money and other favors from unsuspecting tourists.

The stakeholders say there is a need to come up with strategies that will stop the indecent behavior among beach operators from spreading before it scares away tourists from the county.

Alwy Mohamed said the trend was also painting Lamu in shameful light and as such needed to be brought to an immediate stop.

“Many tourists have reported having been robbed or mugged or even duped by beach operators and we feel the trend is getting out of hand and needs to be arrested.The situation is painting Lamu in bad light and we are also concerned that tourists might get scared of visiting Lamu is it doesn’t stop.If that happens the tourism sector will suffer and the people of Lamu too,”said Mohamed.

Lamu county director for Trade and Tourism Ali Ahmed confirmed the incidents and added that they not just common to Lamu but also in the entire coastal region.

Ahmed said his office was working on several strategies including training beach operators on how to handle tourists coming into Lamu.

He said his office is also working to ensure that all those interested in becoming beach operators are registered and accorded a license to operate by the tourism office so as to make it easy to track any culprits in case of any complaints.

He said they are also working on encouraging all tourists,both local and international to first seek clearance from the county tourism office in order to avoid cases of being duped,robbed or mugged by fake beach operators.

“Cases of tourists being robbed or mugged or even duped aren’t unique to Lamu.They are all over.In Lamu we are however doing all we can to take care of the situation so that tourists can enjoy their stay in Lamu.We shall only allow those registered and licensed by our office to operate as beach operators,”said Ahmed.