The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Cultural Festival in Mombasa to Boost Tourism

Mombasa will from Wednesday host a four-day cultural festival. The festival, which showcase different cultures, is aimed at boosting tourism in the region.

The festival is organised by the Research Institute of Swahili Studies of Eastern Africa in conjunction with the Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association and will be held at the Fort Jesus Museum.

"What we want to spread is a message that Mombasa is safe for tourists. We are all aware the numbers into Mombasa has taken a nose dive and businesses are suffering," said MCTA executive officer Millicent Odhiambo.

"This will directly impact on the lives of people living in this region. The Cultural Festival, we hope, will express to the world, Coast is safe and like Lamu build it to an annual festival that attracts the world into the Mombasa county."

The festival of the theme is 'towards peaceful co-existence through culture to promote tourism'. This comes amid concern over the tourism numbers at the Coast this year. Mombasa deputy mayor John Mcharo at the weekend expressed concern that the numbers in the city are low.

He said players in the industry should market the town more aggressively despite security concerns. Police in Mombasa are on high alert following intelligence reports that there could be several attacks in the town.

MCTA chairman Mohamed Hersi however expressed optimism ahead of the peak season after the numbers started picking up following a slow start.

"The industry was slow initially but it is now picking up," said Hersi who attributed this to the domestic tourists and Kenyans in diaspora. Hersi said Kenyans in diaspora have been keeping the industry afloat in recent times accounting for about 10-15 per cent of the tourists.

Odhiambo said the cultural festival will include more than 15 activities including fishing competition, henna designs, poem reciting competition, traditional dances, among others.

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