Traders updeat as Lamu Yoga Festival kicks off

A yoga instructor conducts a class on Shela Beach During a past festival. PHOTO | COURTESY

Hoteliers, beach operators, shop owners, dhow, and boat riders have high hopes that this year’s Lamu Yoga Festival will bring a boom in business.

The 2022 Lamu Yoga, which is the eighth edition starts today in Shela within the Lamu Archipelago and runs to Sunday, 9th October.

Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility, and breathing to boost physical and mental well-being. The main components of yoga are postures (a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility) and improve breathing.

About 300 yoga enthusiasts are expected to take part in this year’s fete. Speaking to the Business Daily yesterday, hotel proprietors and other stakeholders in the tourism industry were upbeat that the festival will boost the sector’s performance.

Swaleh Abdallah, the owner of Shela Guest House said that bookings had greatly improved ahead of the fete.

“So far, I have already received over 10 guests, unlike the previous months where the business was very low. The yoga festival will be a blessing for us,” said Mr Abdallah.

Clement Komen Kiptoon, the owner of Lamu Local Artist, a curio shop based in Shela Town said he too had already noticed an increase in customer numbers.

Mr Kiptoon said in normal days, he would sell less than 10 items but since the Lamu Yoga week started, sales had jumped to more than 20 items as both domestic and international tourists troop to the archipelago.

"These guys have been flocking to our shop to buy decorations and other items for their stay here in Lamu. Business is good and I believe things will be even better during the yoga celebrations beginning Wednesday [today],” said Mr Kiptoon.

Lamu Tourism Association chairperson, Fridah Njeri told the Business Daily that Lamu has been undergoing tough times, and that the festival, as well as other events lined up this year, are welcome boost.

Apart from the yoga fete, Ms Njeri noted that they are also preparing for the mega Lamu Cultural Festival in November. She said such festivals are crucial as they assist in the rediscovery of Lamu as a key tourist destination.

“Our key aim is to rediscover Lamu as the ‘Island of Festivals’. We hope to see more positives out of Lamu as we believe there lies immense potential as a key tourism destination,” said Ms Njeri.

She added, “We hope that through this vigorous and concerted effort in celebrating our cultural heritage, tourism will flourish and Lamu will reclaim its glory once more as a preferred destination of choice."

Said Twalib, a coxswain of a tourist dhow in Lamu Island, acknowledged that business had already improved since the beginning of this week.

According to Mr Twalib, he has been making various trips, ferrying tourists to Shela.

“Normally, I would make only one or two trips from Manda Airport to Shela Town daily. But at the moment, we’ve seen an influx of guests coming to the archipelago to celebrate yoga. Since this week began, I can make at least five to six trips per day. Business is good,” said Mr Twalib.

The Lamu archipelago is one of the most authentic and best-preserved Swahili settlements.

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