Stakeholders fret over fresh raids in Lamu recently
The recent attack on the Manda Bay Airfield in Lamu county has sent shock waves among tourism stakeholders in the North Coast amid reports some guests have cancelled bookings.
On Monday, al-Shabab terrorists stormed the military base, damaging several aircraft and vehicles before they were driven out by Kenyan and American soldiers. Us state officials say three Americans were killed.
While business is going on as usual, hoteliers are worried about the effects of this situation and its global publicity on their business.
“All is calm and we were not affected but the biggest problem is that all the news agencies are reporting that it was on Manda Island and Manda Bay which really does us so much damage.
If you Google Manda Bay, this is what comes up, so I fear our business will suffer,” says Caragh Roberts, co-owner of Manda Bay Resort.
Sunday’s attack is not the first to result in a drop in tourism. Between 2011 and 2017, on average there were 60 terror attacks every year carried out by different groups, with varying impacts.
Some high profile attacks include Paradise Hotel in 2002 in Mombasa, Mpeketoni in 2014, Garissa University in 2015, the Westgate Shopping Mall in 2013 and Dusit Hotel last year.
The main concern is that businesses that rely on tourism can face long periods of stagnation, resulting in job losses.
Notwithstanding such fears, hoteliers in Lamu have sought to give assurances that the island is safe and that it is business as usual.
Most bus companies such as Simba Coach are still operational and passengers are still using the Malindi-Lamu highway.
“Lamu Island is safe, Manda Airport (which was not attacked) is open since Monday afternoon and three flights landed same day,” says Arnold Jambo, manager at Jambo House Lamu.
“It is important to make people realise this attacks was not targeted at tourists in Lamu or Manda islands.
The buses and military convoys going up to the Somali border and Kiunga and in the Ishaqbini/ Hola area are constantly under attack,” adds Caragh.
“I think the Manda Airport runway was closed temporarily as the bigger planes pass close to the military airstrip when landing,” says Caragh.