The UK government has lifted its travel bans on Lamu and Manda Islands, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has announced.
In a communication posted on its website gov.uk on Thursday, the government stated: “the Foreign and Commonwealth Office no longer advise against travel to Lamu and Manda islands.”
Use air transport
The UK government however urged its citizens to use air transport when travelling to the islands.
“If you travel to Lamu Island or Manda Island, you should do so by air to Manda airport and not by road.”
The ban on Lamu Island was imposed in June 2014 due to security concerns, following the Al Shabaab attack in Mpeketoni.
The move comes following incessant push by the Ministry of Tourism, through its Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, and Lamu county government to have the bans lifted.
Barely two months ago, Lamu County Tourism Executive Khamis Kavila called on foreign countries to lift travel advisories imposed on the county in a bid to save the tourism industry.
US travel advise
Speaking during a tourism stakeholders’ forum in Lamu in January, Kavila urged the United States and the UK to lift their bans, which had seen the county suffer a reduction in bookings since 2014.
In 2015, the United States lifted a travel ban it had imposed on most parts of the coastal region including Malindi, Mombasa and Kwale up to the Tanzanian border. Efforts to have it lift the ban on Lamu continue.
Travel bans have adversely affected tourism in Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre international recognized for its rich culture, sandy beaches, amazing Swahili dishes and conducive weather.
In addition to the usual attraction sites, the county also has several festivals including Lamu Cultural Festival, Maulid Festival, Lamu Art Festival and Lamu Yoga Festival among others, to boost its tourist numbers across the year.