Hoteliers, beach operators, shopkeepers, dhow and boat drivers have high hopes for a business boom at this year’s Lamu Yoga Festival.
Lamu Yoga 2022, the eighth edition, starts today at Shela in the Lamu Archipelago and runs until Sunday 9 October.
Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility, and breathing to increase physical and mental well-being. The main components of yoga are postures (a series of movements aimed at increasing strength and flexibility) and improving breathing.
Around 300 yoga enthusiasts are expected at this year’s festival. Speaking to Business Daily, hotel owners and other tourism industry stakeholders expressed optimism that the festival will boost the sector’s performance.
Swaleh Abdallah, the owner of Shela Guest House, said bookings had improved a lot in the run-up to the festival.
“So far I have already received over 10 guests, in contrast to the previous months when business was very low. The yoga festival will be a blessing for us,” said Mr. Abdallah.
Clement Komen Kiptoon, the owner of Lamu Local Artist, a curio shop in Shela Town, said he too has noticed an increase in customer numbers.
Mr Kiptoon said on normal days he would sell fewer than 10 items, but since the start of Lamu Yoga week sales have risen to more than 20 items as both local and international tourists flock to the archipelago.
“These guys flock to our store to buy decorations and other items for their stay here in Lamu. Business is going well and I believe things will get even better during the yoga celebrations that begin on Wednesday [today]’ said Mr Kiptoon.
Lamu Tourism Association Chairwoman Fridah Njeri told Business Daily that Lamu has been going through tough times and that the festival and other events coming up this year are a welcome boost.
Aside from the yoga fete, Ms. Njeri noted that they are also preparing for the Mega Lamu Cultural Festival in November. She said such festivals are vital as they contribute to the rediscovery of Lamu as a major tourist destination.
“Our main goal is to rediscover Lamu as the ‘Island of Celebrations’. We hope to see more positives from Lamu as we believe there is immense potential as a major tourism destination,” said Ms. Njeri.
She added, “We hope that through this energetic and concerted effort to celebrate our cultural heritage, tourism will thrive and Lamu will regain its glory as the destination of choice.”
Said Twalib, a helmsman on a tourist dhow in Lamu Island, admitted business had improved since earlier this week.
According to Mr Twalib, he has made various trips and brought tourists to Shela.
“Normally, I would only make one or two trips from Manda Airport to Shela Town every day. But at the moment we are seeing an influx of guests coming to the archipelago to celebrate yoga. Since this week started I can do at least five to six rides a day. Business is good,” said Mr Twalib.
The Lamu Archipelago is one of the most authentic and best preserved Swahili settlements.
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