Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) will this year partner with the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) to market the port of Mombasa as a leading cruise port of choice along Africa’s east coast.
Speaking to Move It in Mombasa, KTB Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa said following the resumption of calls to the port of Mombasa by international cruise liners, they have deemed it fit to continue partnering with KPA to help attract more vessels.
Trade and travel fairs
“KTB as the sole tourism marketing agency participates in a number of trade and travel fairs abroad and will use these events to sell the port of Mombasa to international cruise liners – to deploy their vessels into the region and in particular make port calls here,” Ndegwa said.
He added that Mombasa has a lot to offer as a cruise destination, both for cruise ship operators and passengers. Operators have a full range of services, where passengers coming offshore can visit a number of attractions, including a quick visit to the world’s third largest nature conservation area – Tsavo, which is a few kilometres from Mombasa.
In the meantime, the KTB boss has welcomed an announcement by KPA that it will be reviewing its earlier stalled plans to put up a modern cruise ship handing terminal.
KPA General Manager, Operations, Captain Twalib Khamis in an earlier interview expressed intent by KPA to review plans to put up a Sh100 million cruise terminal to handle cruise liners.
Currently, KPA allocates berths one and two for cruise ships. Although this is a cargo berth, cruise ships have priority with the quay side made level for buses and foot passengers. It is also easy to cordon off securely.
KPA and tour operators usually make prior arrangements so that passengers can swiftly disembark and board waiting vans and buses to their destinations while the ship is at the port.
On Monday, 400 passengers of various nationalities arrived for a day long stay aboard a luxurious German owned five-star cruise-liner, Ms Deutschland.
While most of the passengers who disembarked headed to the idyllic Tsavo National Park, there were over a dozen passengers who headed to Mombasa Golf Clubs to play golf on the last day of the year.
“After a lull in cruising activities within the Indian ocean occasioned by piracy activities, we are seeing some positive trends owing to relative stability in the region as piracy cases drop,’’ said Ndegwa.
Cruise ships have also avoided these areas due to terrorism fears from the Al Shabab militia, which has however been crippled from its base in Kismayo in Southern Somalia by Kenyan soldiers and their Somalia allies. The Ms Deutschland, a 22,400 tonnage vessel with 10 decks, seven of which are accessible was used by the German Olympic Committee as a hospitality ship during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London in August.
Increased security in the Indian Ocean region, which had suffered the brunt of piracy incidences, has led to the return of more cruise ships, boosting the port.
Recently, a vessel carrying over 500 passengers sailed into Mombasa waters from Mahe, Seychelles, making it the first such vessel to call at the port this year.
Ndegwa termed the vessel’s visit an important occasion to the country’s tourism. “It is a strong endorsement of destination Kenya as a popular and safe destination.”
He said following increased maritime surveillance in the Indian Ocean, there was heightened hope that cruise activities, which have been on an all time low, will improve.
By Philip Mwakio, The Standard