Lamu County serves up Food Festival to entice local tourists

Lamu County serves up Food Festival to entice local tourists

Lamu County will this weekend hold its second annual food festival, showcasing the islands’ rich Swahili culture and traditional cuisine.

The weekend-long function, which will kick off on the 14th of April and end on the 17th, is aimed at bringing together tourists from Kenya and the international community in a celebration of the county’s cultural heritage.

“The Food Festival is expected to attract an audience with an interest in a rich culinary experience including foodies, food bloggers, and other tourists interested in the Lamu cuisine. It is a family oriented, community-centered event, while companies and food industry investors will attend to promote their products or services at the event,” said Lamu Tourism Officer, Fauz Ali.

Last year, the festival had an array of activities including a cooking competition which saw Lamu women show off their culinary skills; the winner was awarded by Governor Issa Timamy.

This year, the Lamu Tourism is taking it a notch higher by involving local restaurants in the competition – a move that is aimed at highlighting what the island’s service industry is has to offer.

“We are currently hosting a multi-tiered restaurant awards competition. We have an accomplished list of judges, led by Chef Mohsine Korich, of Fairview Hotel. Guests will also have their say through the people’s choice awards. All this is aimed at showcasing what local business have to offer,” said Samia Omar, Lamu County Executive Member in charge of Tourism.

The awards ceremony will take place on Sunday evening.

“We have various activities, but one of the highlights is the Lamu Hunger Games, named after the popular TV series. During these competitions, youth will be involved in eating and cooking contests,” added Ms Omar.

An Island of Festivals for year-round tourism

In a bid to promote local and international tourism, Lamu has been holding a series of festivals: Lamu Art Festival (11-14 February, 2016), Lamu Yoga Festival (2-6 March, 2016), Kite Festival at Kizingoni (27-29 March, 2016) and the Lamu Food festival.

This festival cycle is aimed at building all-round tourism.

“Historically, Lamu was a seasonal tourist destination frequented by Europeans, mainly in the summer and over December. Even our local tourists would often come over Easter and December holidays,” Ms Omar explained.

“But with festivals spread throughout the year, we are able to ensure that we bring business to Lamu during off-peak seasons. Now, our hotels are booked and it is April; ordinarily, many would have extremely low occupancy and others would have shut down,” she added.

According to Lamu County’s tourism department, most of the guests for the Lamu Food Festival are Kenyan, with a bulk coming from Nairobi.

Tourism is a vital foreign exchange earner for Kenya, with most of the business being driven by foreigners keen to enjoy Kenya’s diverse wildlife and the country’s culturally rich coastal region.

Following numerous travel bans and advisories slapped on Kenya because of terror attacks in the region, these numbers have slumped, thus forcing the tourism industry to re-focus on the local market.

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