The Star (Nairobi)

11 July 2014

Kenya: Tourism in Lamu On Its Death Bed - Hoteliers

The Hotel and Tourism industry in Lamu county has recorded close to 90 per cent decline following insecurity incidences in the past few weeks in the area that has seen more than 80 people killed.

Many hotels have had to cut down 80 per cent of their staff due to shortage or lack of tourists and clients.

Lamu Tourism Association (LTA) deputy chairperson Ghalib Ahmed Alwy said tourism in the county has dropped by a 90 per cent margin.

Ghalib said the ever increasing security menace facing the county is wholly responsible for the drop since most tourists who had booked to travel to Lamu cancelled their plans.

"Tourism in the county is on its death bed. I do not know how this will be restored. If security is not addressed then our economy as a county is greatly at stake," said Alwy.

Most hotels in the county and restaurants in Lamu town have been forced to close down with most workers facing the axe.

Several high end hotels visited by the Star in Lamu and Shella towns among them Lamu House, Peponi, Bush Gardens, Hapahapa hotels among others had been closed due to lack of clients.

The Lamu Palace Hotel complained of an extremely low customer turn out.

The Bush Gardens Hotel, which normally has 12 staff, now only has four due to the drop in tourists numbers.

"I was fired last week. My boss said he could not pay all of us and that some had to go. I don't know what I'm going to survive on but I know it's because tourists are no longer coming," said Harrison Chengo, a former employee with a hotel in the town.

Alwy said the rate at which many sectors were being affected in the county is alarming and that residents might be left with nothing to depend on.

"Apart from tourism, all sectors are slowly dying. Take a look at the fishing, business and education sectors. They've all stagnated since the attacks began. Visitors and residents alike are fleeing with each passing day," said Alwy.

He asked the government to do something and rescue the county from poverty.

Meanwhile, stakeholders from the tourism and security sectors met at the Sunsail hotel to brainstorm on possible security measures that can be taken in order to bring back tourists.

The meeting was led by the Lamu tourism executive Samia Omar who asked the government to put more effort in ensuring the security of both residents and visitors.

"All stakeholders should work together and be ready to surrender any information that will ensure the security of all," said Omar.

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