More than 200 tourists have arrived at the Mombasa port aboard a cruise ship, marking the beginning of a new tourism season.
The 216 passengers and 222 crew aboard the MS Silver Cloud arrived at the port at 6am Monday and are scheduled to tour the coastal city and also visit the Shimba Hills National Reserve, Kenya Tourism Board assistant corporate communications manager Kimutai Ng’eno said.
“This is the beginning of the cruise tourism season that goes to early next year and we expect another vessel to arrive on December 10, but for security reasons the shipping line has not given further details,” he said.
The MS Silver Cloud arrived from Seychelles and is expected to depart for Zanzibar on Tuesday evening.
“Last season was good, with six vessels arriving at the port and as of September this year, we received at least 1,180 cruise tourists,” Mr Ng’eno said.
Most of the tourists are from the United Kingdom (50), followed by United States (49).
Others are from Australia (28), Germany (17) and Canada (13).
Tourists from Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and Brazil were also on board.
The Kenya Ports Authority plans to spend Sh100 million to build a cruise terminal, expected to improve the image of the port’s handling facilities for tourists.
BEST CRUISE PORT
In June 2016, the Mombasa port was voted Africa’s best cruise port by the World Travel Awards and it is expected that the terminal will improve the port’s profile globally.
Five years ago, over 10,000 tourists arrived at the port each year before the number nosedived following pirate attacks in the Somalia territorial waters in the Indian Ocean.
Only two cruise ships, with 900 passengers, docked at the port in 2014.
According to Mr Ng’eno, improved security in the Indian Ocean, where piracy attacks have been eliminated, has led to the rise in cruise tourism in the region.
The success of the Kenya Defence Forces and international naval forces in fighting piracy on the East African coast has seen a resurgence of cruise tourism in the region.