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Is Mombasa port ready for dedicated cruise ship terminal?

By Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa Correspondent | Jan 21, 2014

Is Mombasa port ready for dedicated cruise ship terminal?
Image via sleepout.com

The Kenya Ports Authority has revived plans for a dedicated cruise ship terminal in Mombasa, aimed at tapping into the revival of cruise ship tourism in the Indian Ocean area off the African coast, following the defeat – by and large anyway – of the Somali ocean terrorists which for years have raided ships and kept cruise liners away from the region.

Probably encouraged by news from the Vanilla Island Organization’s talks with the global cruise industry giants, to bring their ships back for regular visits to the various islands from the Maldives over the Seychelles to Zanzibar, Mauritius, Madagascar and Reunion has the KPA taken a fresh look so as to become part of newly emerging itineraries and bring more such vessels to Kenya in the future.

Last year saw a lull in cruise ship arrivals in Mombasa, for reasons well explained in the past, but the second call, earlier this week, by MS Nautica of Miami based Oceania Cruises in the space of a month has clearly shown the huge benefits for the local tourism industry, as many of the nearly 700 passengers embarked on road and air safaris to the Kenyan national parks, took local sightseeing excursions and spent their cash to buy local crafts, art pieces and curio items to take home with them.

The plans for a cruise ship terminal have been shelved and revived and shelved and revived for many years now but as Indian Ocean tourism destinations compete for cruise ship calls over the availability and ranking of their facilities, Mombasa will be at the tail end of being considered for port calls until such a dedicated terminal has been opened. Mauritius’ Port Louis has over the past years regularly won high accolades for its port facilities, as have Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban in South Africa, where many of the cruise itineraries stop over, start or end before visiting the exotic tropical islands of the Indian Ocean.

Said a source from Victoria, Seychelles, when asked to comment on the plans of Mombasa: “We in the Seychelles promote twin center holidays with mainland destinations. Tourists come for our paradise beaches and then go on safari in Africa. Cruise tourism is similar because tourists can see several destinations at a go. What the entire region should do is to pool our resources to promote cruise tourism. The Vanilla Island Organization is doing just that and is attending cruise tourism trade fairs. African mainland destinations with ports like Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and all the way down to Mozambique and South Africa should join in to such initiatives because it is a very lucrative business. A single port call can generate over a million dollars for the local economy, not just through tours and excursions but also to provide provisions to the ships from fresh water to food and other essential items. I think a partnership can promote some very exciting itineraries for the global cruise lines combining safaris and our island attractions as one package.”

Kenya’s coast has taken a battering of sorts over the past 15 months with significant loss of tourist visitors and largely reduced number of charters flying to Mombasa, and the return of the large ocean liners would be a good start to halt this trend and kick start a revival for the coast’s tourism industry.



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