The moribund industry in Lamu County is likely to be resuscitated after France lifted travel advisories for its citizens, which were put in place due to the region's insecurity.
France’s head of mission, Mr Emmanuel Renoult, said the move was announced by the country’s ambassador to Kenya Remi Marechaux during the tourism annual symposium taking place in Mombasa.
“Our travel advisory to Lamu Archipelago has been reviewed. It is now possible to travel to Lamu,’’ he told the Nation on Friday.
County Executive for Tourism, Trade and Culture Samia Omar welcomed the decision describing it as timely, hoping it will cure the ailing industry.
“The County Government of Lamu is glad to announce that France has reviewed its travel advisory. With France as one of the leading tourist markets, it is anticipated that travel agents will now be able to sell tour packages and reopen the tourist destination,” she said.
She added she is hoping that other countries such as UK, Germany and the US will soon follow suit.
The move comes just a month after Mr Renoult toured the region and held discussions with Lamu Governor, Issa Timamy, Lamu County Commissioner, Mr Joseph Kanyiri, and tourism stakeholders, who shared information on the security conditions.
Also in November 2015, Ambassador Marechaux and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Mr Najib Balala visited Lamu to assess the security situation.
Lamu County has witnessed several attacks by terror group Al-Shabaab that led to the deployment of the Kenya Defence Forces, to force out the militia who were believed to be hiding in Boni Forest.
In February this year, residents protested after three people were allegedly killed by Al-Shabaab.
Later in March, Ms Omar said all necessary measures — including CCTV cameras in Lamu Town, police units at the main Manda airport and within Lamu Town — had been put in place to ensure the security of tourists visiting Lamu.
“The security of tourists is our first and biggest priority and as it is, we have done what we can to ensure all tourists enjoy a safe and secure stay in Lamu. The situation will, however, be much better and easier with the removal of travel advisories,” she said.
Editing by Philip Momanyi