Tourism and investment in Lamu County has been greatly boosted following the lifting of travel advisories by key foreign countries.
For five years when the travel bans were in place, Lamu’s tourism sector and investment climate suffered adversely.
Kenya’s key tourism source markets issued travel advisories after insecurity heightened due to Al-Shabaab terrorist attacks.
In September 2011, a British tourist couple, David Tebbutt,58 and his wife Judith Tebbutt, while set for a holiday at Kiwayu Safari Village Resort in Lamu East, were kidnapped by Al-Shabaab adherents.
In June, 2014, the militants also attacked Mpeketoni Town and its environs including Kibaoni and Witu , killing more than 100 residents and destroying property worth millions of shillings.
This spate of attacks prompted some foreign countries including France and UK to issue travel warnings to their citizens against visiting Lamu, driving tourism into a downturn. Speaking shortly after hosting British High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey at Shella Peponi Hotel at the weekend, Lamu Governor Fahim Twaha said lifting of the travel advisories by most foreign countries particularly the UK in March, 2017 had greatly improved the sector.
The number of investors coming to Lamu has also risen, he added.
“The UK lifted its travel advisories to its citizens against visiting Lamu about a year ago. That has boosted tourism and investment in Lamu,” said Mr Twaha.
Mr Hailey said he was expecting more international tourists would visit Kenya following resumption of peace.
“UK is the biggest source of international tourists to Kenya and Lamu is very much on the map. Hotels here should prepare to receive more international visitors which will in turn improve the economy of Lamu and Kenya as a whole,” the envoy said.
Tourism players interviewed by Shipping in Lamu Old Town, Shella and Ras Kitau in Manda Island, said lifting of the advisories by the UK and France have been a boon to their businesses.
They said the move has seen a notable increase in hotel bookings by international tourists.
“We are at least receiving international tourist bookings compared to the earlier years when the travel advisories were intact,” said Mr Ghalib Alwy who is the proprietor of the Bush Gardens Seafront Restaurant in Lamu Old Town.
“We hope those foreign countries still having active travel advisories in Lamu will lift them.”