Plans to have a cruise ship on the Indian Ocean have gone a notch higher with tourism ministry saying talks have been held with a number of operators.
Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said after engaging with cruise operators at a convention in Miami, plans for a cruise ship on the Indian Ocean are on course.
“We have been engaging with the cruise liners,” the CS said.
“We are working on a modality to have a cruise operator to be home-based to do the Indian Ocean circuit but it takes long term planning.”
Mr Balala said the Kenya Tourism Board will have a department to market and concentrate on cruise ship product.
“This is a new product that we need to diversify in the market. The government’s commitment is to establish cruise ship terminal,” the CS said on Saturday at Vipingo Ridge.
The CS said the cruise tourism will boost the sector as the government is expected to earn from its world-class cruise ship terminal which is undergoing construction at the Port of Mombasa. The Sh350 million facility is set to be completed in August.
The terminal is being constructed with a Sh250 million funding from KPA and Sh100 million from Trade Mark East Africa.
Completion of the cruise ship terminal will be in time for the cruise season in November and expected to give tourism a huge boost as more cruise ships dock at the port.
The works on cruise terminal, which began in December 2016, involve the modernisation of an old building at the port’s berth number 1. The terminal will have arrival and departure areas for passengers coming through the sea at the Port of Mombasa.
The facility will also have a lounge for passengers, an immigration office, reception counters for cruise operators, restaurants and souvenir shops. Cruise tourists will enjoy facilities just like those offered at the international airports.
Cruise tourism is a lucrative market for Kenya with visitors arriving by sea being high-end holidaymakers.
A survey carried out in 2015 by Tourism and Transport Consult International on cruise tourist potential for Kenya showed that Mombasa could easily attract 140,000 passengers per year.
In 2015, Kenya earned the highest from the product after 10 cruise vessels carrying 6,000 tourists called at the port.
The Kenya Tourist Board(KTB says tourist arrivals into Kenya’s Coastal region between July last year and June this year rose by double-digit over the previous financial year to boost total tourist arrivals into Kenya by 6.8 per cent to 1,488,370 up from 1,393,568 in the period between 2016 and 2017.