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Economy

Tourism sector plays down Lamu attack concerns

 Sam Ikwaye
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers executive officer Sam Ikwaye. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA 

Tourism industry players have played down safety concerns over the Lamu Island tourist sites despite the latest series of terrorist attacks.

Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohamed Hersi said the areas militants frequently target represent just a small part of Lamu, which is far away from the tourist sites.”

“The tourist attractions constitute just a tiny fraction of Lamu County, which is one huge area covering 6,273km² and more than 120 kilometres of ocean frontage,” he said.

“The tourist sites have always been safe to visit by flying to Manda mainland and across the channel to the island,” he said, adding that most of the travellers land on Manda airstrip, ride on motorboats to Lamu Island and Shela Island.

On January 6, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority temporarily closed the Manda airstrip after an attack on a military base that hosts US and Kenyan counter-terrorism forces.

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Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers executive officer Sam Ikwaye termed the attacks unfortunate.

“They are very unfortunate instances. Our concern is that the Americans should not issue advisories because what is happening is a result of their global politics. Kenya is very peaceful,” he said.

Mr Ikwaye said Kenya has remained relatively calm despite numerous political activities.

“Kenya itself is undergoing a lot of political activities but that has not affected any part of the country. We are hoping this will not affect business in the coming month,” he said.

Mr Ikwaye said the hotel industry has had a busy season, adding that he expects the bookings to increase in 2020.

“We have very good projections for next year. What happened was an attack on a military base it was not targeted to tourist attractions. That says that no tourist is being targeted in any way. Lamu is safe and you are welcome,” he said.

Over the past five years, Lamu’s tourism sector has suffered adversely owing to the insecurity brought about by Al-Shabaab attacks, which resulted in the killings of security officers and civilians.

The county covers a strip of northeastern coastal mainland and the Lamu archipelago, which extend about 100km from the Somalia border.

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