Hoteliers, traders refurbish premises ahead of Lamu cultural festival

A promotional banner of the festival last year outside Lamu old town where the festival is scheduled to be held PHOTO NATASHA NEMA

Lamu, KENYA: Hoteliers in Lamu are bracing for the upcoming Lamu Cultural Festival that kicks off on November 22 to 25 this year.

This year’s festival will be the 18th edition since its inception years ago.

Hoteliers, shop, and restaurant owners have been refurbishing and repainting their premises ahead of the festival.

Traders are looking forward to making a kill in profits from the thousands of guests expected to flock the historical Lamu old town.

The town was listed as a heritage site by Unesco in 2001.

The cultural festival showcases the rich culture and heritage of Lamu’s Swahili communities and is normally preceded by various competitions led by the famous donkey race, swimming, dhow races and a combination of traditional dances.


The festival is renowned for its titillating economic returns that leave many traders and business people reaping larger profits than they would have on their normal business days.

Lamu Cultural Promotional Group chairperson Ghalib Alwy says this year’s festival will attract at least 50,000 visitors, both local and international.

Traders are optimistic that this year’s cultural festival will boost business and tourism than ever before.

Hotel owner Omar Abdalla says he has had to add an extra compartment to his hotel building so as to accommodate the increased number of visitors seeking to book rooms at his hotel.

“My hotel rooms are all full and so what I did considering I was still receiving calls from visitors who want to book rooms, I had to quickly put up an extra compartment of rooms to cater to the increased customer volume. It has never been this way before and we are looking forward to making some tidy money,” said Abdalla.

Apartment leasing

 Residents have also decided to cash in on the booming customer numbers with many pimping up sections of their homes and turning them into rooms to rent at reasonable prices.

Abdulrahman Shali, a trader in Lamu town who owns several homes with the town says he decided to rent out some of his apartments to visitors who failed to get bookings at the already full hotels in the town.

“I own the apartments and they are actually not for rent but since I am not using them and there are so many people seeking to rent for the festival, I am renting out the premises and its good business.I think I will do this more often,” said Shali.

Many hotel owners have given their premises facelifts in order to increase their appeal to tourists coming in for the festival.

The Lamu Cultural Festival is marked annually every month of November.

This year’s festival is worth Sh.13 Million according to the Lamu Cultural Promotional Group who is in charge of organizing the entire festival.

This year’s theme is ‘Tembea Lamu’.