The Star (Nairobi)

15 July 2014

Kenya: Lamu Hotel Bookings Decline By 85 Per Cent

THE Hotel and Tourism industry in Lamu county have recorded an 85 per cent decline in sales and tourist bookings due to the current security fears.

Many hotels have had to cut down a whooping 80 per cent of staff due to the few number of visitors or lack of tourists and clients.

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

He said the increasing security menace in the county is to blame for the drop in the number of visitors, since most tourists cancelled their bookings to Lamu.

"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," Ghalib said.

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 employed 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 good 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 the poverty that now stares at residents.

Meanwhile, players in the tourism and security sectors yesterday met at the Sunsail Hotel to brainstorm on possible security measures to restore confidence in tourists.

The meeting was led by the Lamu tourism executive Samia Omar who asked the government to ensure the security of 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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