Kenya’s newly constructed $3.5m cruise ship terminal has received its first batch of tourists for 2020 at the Port of Mombasa.
The ultra-modern cruise terminal was commissioned in December 2019 and handed over to the Port of Mombasa management.
According to the-star.co.ke, the terminal played host to about 500 tourists brought in by MS Marco Polo, owned by the Global Maritime Group under charter to UK-based Cruise and Maritime Voyages.
The east African country has continued to receive international patronage despite travel advisories from the United State and United Kingdom over constant threat of pirates and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
The vessel which arrived at 6.30 am will be in the country for an overnight stay with tourists going for a city tour of Mombasa and the nearby wildlife and marine parks, mainly Tsavo National Park.
The alerts could affect travel plans for most cruise ships and tourists. Kenya has traditionally been among East African countries on the global cruise circuit alongside Zanzibar.
Tourism stakeholders however remain optimistic of a good performance especially with the investment on an ultra-modern facility, dismissing travel alerts concerns.
“Vessels will come. We don’t take these advisories very serious because the country has had lengthy stability. Piracy is a thing of the past,” said Sam Ikwaye, Kenya Association of Hotel keepers and Caterers executive officer.
Kenya Tourism Federation Chairman Mohammed Hersi said vessels sailing to Kenya remain safe based on the current route, which keeps off the Somalia waters.
“They go off completely down to Madagascar. We are good to go,” Hersi said.
The main cruise ship route to Kenya is Sychelles-Madagascar -Dar es Salaam-Zanzibar-Mombasa.
The Mombasa cruise ship terminal is expected to enhance passenger handling capacity and support growth of the country’s tourism sector.
The terminal comprises duty-free shops, restaurants, conference facilities and offices for key stakeholders in the industry.
“It is a very good investment. At the end of the day, you cannot compete for cruise business without a proper terminal,” Hersi said yesterday.
KPA is crossing its fingers the recent terrorist attack in Lamu and tension between the US, Iran and their allies does not affect global travel schedules for vessels.
The authority will operate the terminal in the interim before seeking a private operator.
“We will operate the facility for now but plans are in place to seek an independent operator later,” KPA Principal Corporate Communications Officer Hajj Masemo told the Star.
According to atqnews.com, Travel & Tourism in Kenya grew faster than the regional average and significantly above other economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to new research from the World Travel & Tourism Council.
In 2018, Travel & Tourism grew 5.6% to contribute KSHS 790 billion and 1.1 million jobs to the Kenyan economy. This rate of growth is faster than the global average of 3.9% and the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 3.3%.
This makes Kenya the third largest tourism economy in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa and Nigeria both of which grew substantially less than Kenya in 2018.
In total, international tourists spent over KSHS 157 billion in Kenya last year, accounting for over 15% of total exports. The largest inbound international markets were the USA (11%); UK (9%); India (6%); China (4%); and Germany (4%). Combined with domestic spending, Travel & Tourism supported 8.8% of the nation’s GDP in 2018.