By: MATHIAS RINGA
The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) will spend Sh100 million to construct a terminal for welcoming tourists on cruise ships at the port of Mombasa.
The port lacks a cruise facility for hosting holidaymakers when they arrive in Mombasa by sea.
The port captured headlines in June when the World Travel Awards voted it as Africa’s best cruise port.
Five years ago, it attracted over 10,000 cruise tourists per year before the number took a plunge due to pirate attacks in Somalia territorial waters.
Only two cruise ships docked at the port in 2014 with 900 passengers.
KPA principal communications officer Haji Masemo said construction works will start in 2016.
Mr Masemo stressed the need for the terminal following an increase in the number of tourists to more than 1,800 this year from 900 in 2014.
He also noted the number of cruise ship visits increased from two in 2014 to three this month.
Another ship is expected before the end of November.
DECLINE IN PIRATE ATTACKS
“Following a decline in pirate attacks, thanks to the efforts of the Kenya Defence Forces and naval forces of the international community, cruise ships are now coming back to Mombasa,” Mr Masemo said.
He added: “That is why it is necessary for the port to have a terminal where tourists can rest on arrival or before departure.”
Mr Masemo said the port which is a member of the Cruise Indian Ocean Association is capitalising on the organisation to woo back more cruise ships and holidaymakers.
Last week, MS Nautica arrived at the port with 684 tourists and 386 crew members bringing hope for the revival of the ailing sector.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast executive officer Sam Ikwaye said it is important for the port to have the facility to improve services offered to cruise tourists.
He noted that improvement of facilities would help attract more tourists.
“Months ago, the port was recognised as the best and therefore it should have a world-class terminal where tourists can relax,” he said.
He added: “KPA should take advantage of the accolade to attract more cruise ships to Mombasa and help revive the tourism sector.”
Kenya Tourism Board boss Muriithi Ndegwa termed the decision by the US and UK governments to lift of the travel advisories against Mombasa as a major boost to tourism.
“Cruise tourism benefits the industry more since sea travellers are big spenders,” said Mr Muriithi.
The KTB boss added that Mombasa is expected to attract more cruise ships since security had significantly improved in the region.
He explained that KTB would market the destination in international cruise tourism markets to woo back more holidaymakers.
“When the cruise tourists arrive in Mombasa, they go on safari to the national parks as well as visit cultural and historical sites,” he explained.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION