By: MATHIAS RINGA
Tourism got a boost after another luxury cruise ship on Tuesday docked at the port of Mombasa with more than 1,000 tourists and crew.
It was the first time for MS Insignia, which is operated by Oceania Cruises, to arrive in Mombasa from Seychelles with 668 passengers and 400 crew.
Last Friday, MS Nautica, which is also operated by Oceania Cruises, arrived in Mombasa with 1,070 tourists and crew.
Following the arrival of MS Insignia yesterday, the cruise tourist figure rose to 2,500. Last year, the figure stood at 900.
Most of the holidaymakers were from the United States, while others came from the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Canada, Norway and South Africa.
Some tourists travelled to the Tsavo East and West national parks, the Amboseli and Shimba Hills game reserves, and the Mwalughanje Elephant Sanctuary.
Others enjoyed a tour of Mombasa’s Old Town, Fort Jesus, Haller Park and the Bombolulu Workshop and Cultural Centre.
Bird enthusiasts visited the Arabuko Sokoke Forest in Kilifi County. The forest boasts 270 bird species.
Mr Ole Kristian Jorgensen, a Norwegian tourist, said he was over the moon for visiting Mombasa for the second time. He said 20 years ago, he visited Mombasa for a one-week holiday.
“At the moment, it’s extremely cold in Norway. I am glad to be in Mombasa to enjoy the warm weather,” said Mr Jorgensen, who was in the company of his wife Sigrun.
“I am surprised that Mombasa has tremendously developed compared to when I arrived here for the first time,” he added.
Mr John Ritchie and his wife Sandy — who are from San Francisco, US — said they had visited the country for bird watching.
The tourists added that they would tour the Arabuko Sokoke Forest to see rare birds such as the Clarke’s weaver, the Sokoke scops owl, the Sokoke Pipit and the Amani sunbird.
“We are bird lovers. We will spend the whole day at Arabuko Sokoke to watch various kinds of bird species found in the forest,” said the couple.
A South African tourist Craig Liddle, who was visiting Mombasa for the first time, said he came to explore Old Town and the iconic Fort Jesus.
He added that he felt at home due to the friendliness of Mombasa residents and the warm weather.
“I am planning to visit again next year to enjoy game drives in Kenya’s popular parks,” he said.
Kenya Tourism Board Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa said the maiden arrival of MS Insignia was a sign that cruise tourism was on a recovery path.
He attributed the increase in the number of cruise ships visiting Mombasa to the US and UK governments’ lifting of travel advisories against Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties.
Addressing journalists at the port of Mombasa after welcoming the tourists, Mr Ndegwa said the board, in collaboration with the Kenya Ports Authority, would aggressively market the destination in a bid to attract more cruise tourists.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION