Plans are underway for cruise boats to be introduced in Kisumu to provide water transport to both locals and tourists.
The cruise boats are intended to provide transport in Lake Victoria to enable residents and visitors from Kisumu city be ferried to Kenyan islands such as Rusinga for them to enjoy the available attraction sites.
According to Tourism Finance Corporation chief executive officer Jonah Orumoi, the corporation wants to provide reliable water transport for locals and tourists to access the islands which have attractions including beaches.
The corporation, he says, targets boats which can carry between 50 and 150 passengers.
“Rusinga Island has beautiful beach and birds species. The boats will make it easier for locals and foreign visitors to cruise to the island and have fun,” he added.
On the other hand, the Corporation wants to link up Kisumu with other towns on the shores of Lake Victoria such as Jinja and Entebbe in Uganda as well as Mwanza, Musoma and Bukoba in Tanzania.
This, added, would enable Kisumu attract tourists from the Ugandan and Tanzanian towns on the shores of the lake.
“We plan to transform Kisumu into a tourism hub by ensuring that local and international tourists travel by water, air and by road to this city for holiday,” Mr Orumoi said.
Through the planned introduction of cruise boats in Kisumu, he added, the country would attract more tourists from the neighbouring countries of Uganda and Tanzania.
According to statistics from the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), tourists from Uganda to Kenya increased to 51,023 last year up from 29,038 in 2015.
On the other hand, tourists from Tanzania to Kenya increased to 18,160 last year up from 17,752 the previous year.
Uganda is Kenya’s leading tourist source market on the African continent.
The Corporation, he added, is also planning to offer loans to investors to build floating restaurants in Kisumu to woo more holidaymakers.
“Floating restaurants are among new products, the Corporation is encouraging investors to set up so that Kisumu can be the centre of tourist attraction,” he added.
To achieve the introduction of cruise boats, Mr Orumoi said the Corporation would offer loans to investors willing to provide cruise boats services in Kisumu.
He says the Corporation will before the end of this financial year offer loans amounting to Sh800 million to investors planning to introduce new innovative products.
For the next financial year, he added, the Corporation had requested for a financial support of Sh2.5 billion for it to offer more loans to investors in the tourism industry.
Apart from Kisumu, Mr Orumoi said the Corporation would also support investors intending to introduce cruise boat services in Mombasa.
The cruise boats are intended to enable residents and tourists in Mombasa County to access other Counties on the coastline such as Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu.
“Travelling in the sea is an adventure in itself and that is the reason why the Corporation is looking for businesspeople willing to invest in cruise boat services,” he said.
“Just like, cruise ships which cruise to Mombasa from other parts of the world, we want to have cruise boats which can ferry tourists from one coastal town to another,” he added.
In Mombasa, Mr Orumoi said some of the boats will be transporting locals and tourists from Mombasa island to Diani in the South Coast and from the island to Mkomani and from Tudor to Mishomoroni.
For long journeys by sea, some cruise boats will be transporting passengers from Mombasa to towns of Kilifi, Watamu, Malindi and Mambrui in Kilifi County and Tana River and Lamu archipelago.
Apart from the cruise boats venture, Mr Orumoi said the corporation will also offer loans to investors planning to introduce floating restaurants in Mombasa and Kisumu cities.
“We want to have floating restaurants in the sea and Lake Victoria, so that both locals and visitors can have the opportunity to take meals while enjoying the ocean and lake atmosphere as an adventure,” he said.
Last month, Mombasa County government announced that it was seeking to investors to invest in sea transport in a bid to address traffic congestion on the existing roads on the island.