, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 20 – Scheduled flights landing at Manda airstrip in Lamu are in full capacity as visitors throng the region ahead of this year’s Lamu Cultural Festival slated for November 21 to 24.
Accommodation facilities have equally reported impressive bookings with majority recoding 100 percent reservations.
Manda Airstrip manager Mohammed Lippi says the airport records almost 200 passengers to Lamu in a day in readiness for the annual cultural festivals.
“The scheduled flights such as Air Kenya, East Africa, Safari Link and Fly 540 are in full capacity and we receive an average of between 180 and 200 passengers at the airstrip daily,” said the airport manager. According to the Manager, the airport is also recording an increase of private aircrafts with an average of six recorded daily.
He said the festivals and increased marketing of Lamu as a tourist attraction has made the airstrip more busy in the recent past .
“With increased tourism and other economic activities, the airstrip runway has be extended by a kilometer in addition to recent opening of a passenger terminal to handle the expected increase of aircrafts into Lamu,” he added.
A spot check on the reservations indicates that the majority of the accommodation facilities around the old Lamu town are fully booked.
“At the moment we are at 75 percent, but with the last booking, we hope to surpass this number” said Lamu House Hotel and Beach Club director Frank Feremans.
He at the same time appealed to the airline operators to consider increasing their scheduled flight to Lamu during the festivals period to ease the challenge of access to the region.
Kenya Tourism Board Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa says increased marketing in Lamu and the entire coastal region is paying off. “We expect higher participation this year owing to our aggressive marketing and improved security in the island,” said Ndegwa .
He said the annual festival showcases diversified tourism products Kenya has to offer through cultures, heritage and other unique attractions in line with the tourism diversification strategy.
The four-day festival showcases traditional dances, display of handicraft and unique competitions on water and land. Visitors will also be treated to Swahili poetry, donkey races, dhow races, henna paintings and Swahili bridal ceremony show.
Foreign embassies such as France, Britain, Poland, Germany, and some European union member countries have continued to support the festivals whose sponsorship is also from government agencies and the private sector.