By Awadh Babo
The tourism industry in Lamu has dropped by more than 50 per cent in the last six months due to insecurity and travel adversaries issued by western countries.
Most of the hotels have incurred huge loss as a result of cancelled bookings that have caused great harm to the industry even as the Government struggles to improve the situation.
The chairman of the Lamu Hoteliers Tourist Association Mr Lars Koreschen said the industry within the Lamu archipelago was forced to lay off between 10-15 per cent of the hotel staff to cut off further loss arising from the insecurity.
Speaking to Business Weekly in Lamu town , Koreschen said hoteliers are, however, optimistic that the situation is going to improve as most of the hotel establishments reopen for the high tourist season this July.
“We are hopeful that this season will be better because Lamu has never had any insecurity incident since last September when the Somali pirates hit Lamu hotels and brought the effects,” said Koreschen.
He said security has been beefed up since then as more security personnel continue to patrol the beaches day and night. He added that the presence of more patrol boats around the archipelago and the additional administration police with communication equipment has helped to deter attempts by Somali pirates to attack Lamu again.
However, he appealed to the French Embassy and government to consider reviewing and lifting the travel ban it has imposed to Kenya since it has really affected the tourism market in Lamu.
“ Lamu archipelago used to receive a lot of French tourists but since the travel ban was imposed the number of French tourist travelling to Lamu has dropped drastically. We are now mostly receiving Italians and British tourists among other nationalities,” he said.
marketing the area
The veteran hotelier said re-marketing Lamu again to recapture its full market potential is still an uphill task because of the grenade attacks that have occurred in other parts of the country recently.
“We are working very closely with the Kenya Tourist Board to ensure the hotel industry in Lamu receives its full share and the presence of the British High Commissioner to Kenya in Lamu for a few days is going to be a major boost to the European tourists,” said Koreschen.