African countries should pursue an integrated approach in marketing and promoting cruise tourism to gain from the sector, a industry lobby has proposed.
Catherine Mturi-Wairi, the chair of the Cruise Indian Ocean Association (CIOA), who is also Kenya Ports Authority's managing director, has urged member countries to exploit the continent’s potential in the sector.
Speaking on Tuesday during the opening of a cruise tourism workshop in Victoria, Seychelles, Ms Wairi said the region had a diversity of natural wonders on land and sea complemented by competitive ports and tourism bodies that would support cruise tourism.
“It will be appreciated that cruise shipping is one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry.
"The industry shows no signs of slowing down, with 24 million passengers having sailed in 2016 globally, a dramatic increase from 15 million 10 years earlier,” she said through Bernard Osero, KPA spokesman.
Ms Mturi-Wairi noted that eastern, southern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands provide an excellent alternative option to the traditional cruise circuits, adding that the sector, if well harnessed, could propel regional economies.
To grow the industry and offer unique experiences, she called for collaboration among port authorities, major stakeholders and their partners.
Sh100m cruise terminal
KPA is currently developing a cruise terminal at the Mombasa port at a cost of Sh100 million.
“My view is that our region represents an important niche for cruise development. The popularity of the safari/cruise package available in the region is growing rapidly,” Ms Mturi-Wairi told delegates at the CIOA forum.
The theme of the two-day workshop is on the role of integrated tourism as a method to revive cruise tourism.
Countries represented are Kenya, Seychelles, South Africa, Mauritius, Uganda, Zambia, Namibia and Sudan.
CIOA was founded under the auspices of the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA), one of the regional bodies set up by the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa.
The association’s key objectives include promoting and marketing the eastern and southern Africa region and south west Indian Ocean islands and performing liaison functions between members and cruise line players.
The association also researches, develops and maintains a statistical database on port networks and information pertaining to cruise tourism worldwide and to provide a forum for a unified and integrated approach to cruise tourism.
The workshop was attended by Mauritius minister for tourism Mr Kumarisingh Gaya, Seychelles tourism PS Ms Anne La Fortune and Seychelles Port Authority chief executive Colonel Andre Ciseau.
Others were PMAESA Secretary-General Ms Nozipho Mdawe, CEO Transnet South Africa Mr Richard Valliu, Uganda's Ambassador for Mombasa Consulate, Katurebe Tayebwa and Kenya Tourism Board product manager Mr Fred Okeyo.