At least 5 luxury ships to dock before end of cruise season


Tourists disembark from a cruise ship. PHOTO | FILE |

At least five luxury ships are expected to cruise to Mombasa in the coming two months with international tourists giving cruise tourism a much needed boost.

According to the Kenya Ports Authority, two cruise ships are due in November while three others are expected to arrive in Mombasa in December.

The KPA principal communications officer Haji Masemo said more ships are expected to cruise to Mombasa between December and March next year.

Traditionally, cruise tourism season begins in November and ends in March.

“We expect the number of cruise tourists this season to increase to 10,000 up from 7,638 last year as
more ships bring in holidaymakers to the country,” he said.

Mr Masemo said following cruise tourism promotions in Florida, USA, in March, more luxury ships are expected to visit Mombasa.

“We participated in a cruise tourism convention in Fort Luaderdale, USA, where we marketed Mombasa so that we could attract many cruise holidaymakers,” he said.

Through the Cruise Indian Ocean Association, he added, Kenya, in collaboration with other member states including South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Tanzania and Mozambique have been promoting cruise tourism across the world.

Majority of the cruise tourists who come to Mombasa are from the US, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Australia, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands and South Africa. The tourists visit Tsavo East and West National parks, Amboseli National Park, Shimba Hills Game Reserve and Mwalughanje Elephant Sanctuary.

Others enjoy touring Mombasa town, Haller Park in Bamburi, Fort Jesus while bird lovers visit Arabuko Sokoke Forest in Kilifi County.

Cruise tourism sprang back to life last year after five ships brought in more than 3,000 visitors compared with 900 tourists in 2014.

The sector took a dive between 2012 and 2014 due to rise in pirate attacks off the Somalia coast.

But naval operations intensified by the International community had by February 2012 led to a drop in successful pirate attacks in the Indian Ocean with pirates movements in the region at large scale also significantly constrained.

The deployment of Kenya Defence Forces soldiers to Somalia and patrols by the local and international community naval forces led to the decline in pirate activity in 2013.

The number of visitors arriving in Mombasa by cruise ships declined from 11,000 in 2009 to just 500 in 2010.

Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner that employs may people in the travel industry. and other sub-sectors, meaning Kenya feels the pinch when international tourists change course.

Arrivals have stagnated near one million, a figure that the Ministry of Tourism is working hard to improve to three million to grow earnings from last year’s Sh84.7 billion, a drop from Sh100 billion in 2013.