Travel restrictions shake tourism in Lamu


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Tourism stakeholders in Lamu have urged countries that have active travel advisories to lift them so that the county can develop economically.

The acting Tourism Executive Khamis Kaviha, during a stakeholders forum in Mwana Arafa Hotel in Lamu town on Saturday, said the industry will not improve if the prohibitions are not done away with.

Mr Kaviha mentioned US and Britain as some of the countries that have warned their citizens not to travel to the county because of insecurity.

He said the economy is suffering.

The Kenya Travel Warning Report by the US Department of State alerted citizens to avoid travelling to border areas between Somalia and Kenya due to threats by the terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

The report also warns them against travelling to northeastern counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa; and Coastal counties of Tana River, Lamu and all areas north of Malindi in Kilifi County.

It further listed Eastleigh, in Nairobi, as an area tourists should avoid.

In a statement, the stakeholders however said the perpetual existence of advisories has made many tourists to shun the county.

Mr Kaviha said the national government, through military operations such as ‘Linda Boni’ – which aims to flush out Al-Shabaab militants from Boni forest – safety in the county has been restored.

“For several times, I have been in talks with the government officials who are in charge of security. They are saying Lamu is secured.

“We are, therefore, looking forward to the removal of the travel advisories so that Lamu’s tourism can blossom once again,” he said.

Commenting on the same, Lamu County Tourism Director Ali Ahmed lauded the French embassy for lifting a proscription early last year, saying the move had greatly boosted the confidence of both visitors and residents.

As a way of reclaiming the lost glory, he said the region hosts festivals to portray the benefits of visiting the county.

“For the past two years, Lamu County has been holding numerous festivals just to attract more tourists and this has really worked,” Mr Ahmed said.

Between 2014 and 2015 there were numerous terrorists attacks in in Mpeketoni, Kibaoni, Witu, Hindi and Basuba in Lamu East.


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