Kenya tourism news – Lamu Cultural Festival ‘a total success’

The annual Lamu Cultural Festival came to a close yesterday with every available bed booked up by locals, said to comprise over 75 percent of the hotel bookings but also by overseas tourists, who had defied the blanket anti travel advisories and flown, boated and drove to this ancient Swahili township. The Kenya Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism had gone flat out to promote the event and this was thought decisive of making the event a full house, with first feedback from a group of Tweeps, who were invited to cover the event under the hash tag line #TembeaKenya, also confirming the widespread presence, on shore and off shore, of security to ensure an incident free festival. #TembeaKenya is a social media campaign which evolved in recent weeks on Twitter, to promote increased travel by Kenyans across Kenya Tembea in Kiswahili stands for walk or travel and this correspondent has widened the scheme into #TembeaEastAfrica to have every country across the East African region embrace travel at home to enjoy the sights which attract so many visitors from abroad and yet are rarely appreciated by those living here.
Music, dance and poetry performances went alongside art exhibitions and of course the traditional donkey races, flagged off by tourism minister Najib Balala but the most spectacular event, as always, turned out to be the dhow races, which were increased from previously two to three categories, and turned out to be the largest assembly of the classic sailing dhows seen for ages, with participants coming from as far South as Mozambique.
The Lamu Tourism Association pegged attendance for the festival to nearly 70.000 visitors over the four day festival period, the highest ever seen so far and local tourism stakeholders expressed their gratitude to the Ministry of Tourism for standing by them and supporting the festival this year with an extraordinary promotional effort, at home, in the region and overseas.
See you next year in Lamu then, while in the meantime all eyes will be turning to the next major Swahili culture and arts festival Sauti Za Busara, staged in Zanzibar early next year.