Tourism stakeholders in Lamu say terrorism hurting sector

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

Lamu, KENYA: Stakeholders in the tourism sector in Lamu County have said the constant al Shabaab attacks and killings in the region have greatly and negatively impacted the sector.

In a meeting in Lamu on Wednesday, the stakeholders that comprised of hotel owners, traders and business people said the frequent al Shabaab attacks were to blame for the low numbers of tourists willing to tour the region this year and a good part of last year.

They said most tourists who had already reserved bookings in hotels starting January have canceled them following the recent terror attacks.

According to former Lamu Tourism Association deputy chair Ghalib Alwy who is also a hotel proprietor in Lamu town, many hotels in Lamu town, Shella, Ras Kitau, Kipungani, Manda, Kiwayu and Mkokoni has witnessed a disappointing turn of fortune after tourists cancelled all reservations made.

Alwy says there’s is need for the government to intervene and help the situation by coming up with effective strategies of marketing the county’s tourism to the outside world.

H said the issue of insecurity was the biggest hurdle that the sector faces so far and called for more efforts to salvage the situation.

“The economy of Lamu continues to suffer.The constant al shabaab attacks and raids haven’t done us any good either as tourists keep off.The tourism sector is especially doing so badly.There is need for prompt interventions,”said Alwy.

Said Abdulrehman,a resort owner said the tourism sector will only grow when and if the government decides to seriously manage and tame constant insecurity from al shabaab.

He said there is need for the situation to be convincing enough for foreign nations to lift travel advisories on Lamu.

“How can tourism grow is al shabaab seem to be in charge.Security must be improved and travel advisories lifted.That will be enough for the economy of this place to be revived,”said Abdulrehman.

Fishermen who attended the meet said the security situation had resulted in them being banned from conducting their trade at night when it’s most productive.

They said the ban was a blow since a good catch can only be made at night when the fish have reduced visibility making it easier to catch them.

“The government claimed to have lifted the fishing ban but it’s still in place.We can’t go on like this considering we depend on fishing for a livelihood,” said Mohamed Athman.