In recent years, the Luju Lifestyle Festival has become a significant cultural event in Eswatini, offering a unique platform for artists to showcase their work.

According to Standard Bank Eswatini Chief Executive, Mvuselelo Fakudze, a lot of individuals benefit from the Luju Festival which has been in existence for five years now. During the recent Luju Festival, over 8000 people participated in the event and they are still growing annually.

Moses Vilakati, the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, contends that this festival has not only broadened the horizons of the local creative community but has also significantly contributed to the growth of the tourism industry.

“Even next year tourists will come because they know about the Luju Festival in the country”, said the Minister.

Moreover, the festival has created job opportunities and enhanced the hospitality industry in Eswatini.

In an interview with Eswatini TV’s Kusile Breakfast Show, Vilakati said the potential of events like the Luju Lifestyle Festival should be extended beyond the Mbabane-Manzini corridor, and be spread to other regions in the country, offering employment opportunities for the youth and providing a chance for them to showcase their artistic work.

“The Luju Lifestyle Festival has successfully created a platform that promotes the unique talents of artists in Eswatini. It serves as a space where musicians, designers, visual artists, food lovers, and performers of all kinds can display their creative prowess. The festival offers an eclectic mix of live performances, fashion shows, art exhibitions, and workshops, providing a diverse range of opportunities for both established and emerging artists and businesses. That is what makes us happy”, the Minister said.

Over the years, the festival has gained recognition for nurturing local talent and acting as a pillar for artists looking to gain exposure and recognition on a broader scale. He went on to emphasize the significant impact the Luju Lifestyle Festival has had on the country's tourism sector. With its growing popularity, the festival has attracted a significant influx of tourists, both domestic and international. This surge in visitors has led to increased revenue for hotels, restaurants, and other tourism-related businesses. Furthermore, he said the festival has also stimulated the growth of ancillary industries, such as transportation services, thereby creating job opportunities for locals.

“However, it is important to recognize that the current focus of the Luju Lifestyle Festival is primarily limited to the Mbabane-Manzini corridor. To fully harness its potential, the festival should be extended to other regions in the country. This expansion would not only help boost the local economies of these regions but also provide employment opportunities for the country's youth. By organizing satellite events or partnering with local communities, the festival could create a ripple effect, generating income and exposure for a wider range of artists and artisans across the nation”, said the minister.

He continued: “In addition to stimulating economic development, the festival's geographical expansion would also allow for a more comprehensive representation of Eswatini's cultural diversity, the minister continued. Each region boasts its own distinct traditions and artistic expressions, and showcasing these unique facets of the country's heritage would enrich the festival's offerings. By bringing the Luju Lifestyle Festival to new locations, the nation's cultural identity can be celebrated and shared, fostering a sense of unity and pride among its citizens.”

He thinks spreading the festival to various regions would also encourage tourism beyond the usual tourist destinations, dispersing the economic benefits throughout the country. This decentralized approach would alleviate the congestion often witnessed in the Mbabane-Manzini corridor, directing tourists to explore lesser-known areas and experience the untapped potential they offer. As a result, more communities and businesses across Eswatini would benefit from the positive ripple effects of tourism, Minister Vilakati says.

In conclusion, the Minister said the Luju Lifestyle Festival has become a critical catalyst for promoting the talents of artists in Eswatini and bolstering the tourism industry. However, to fully leverage its potential, the festival should expand its reach beyond the Mbabane-Manzini corridor, he says. According to the Minister, by extending the festival to other regions, not only would the employment opportunities for the youth increase, but the festival would also facilitate the celebration of Eswatini's cultural diversity, while channeling the economic benefits of tourism to previously overlooked parts of the country.

One of the local businesspersons who were able to showcase their products during the Luju Festival said: “We were able to share our products with the crowds and the people were happy. They bought our merchandise. We would like to thank Standard Bank Eswatini for giving us such opportunities. Through such opportunities, we are able to feed our families.” The Luju Lifestyle Festival has laid a strong foundation for the growth of the creative arts industry in Eswatini.