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Cruise ship tourism boon for government, hoteliers and traders

The government is on course to achieving its target of attracting 12,000 cruise ship tourists and collecting Sh2 billion in revenue.

This is after the Tourism and Wildlife CS Dr. Alfred Mutua welcomed 2500 tourists and 1000 crew members who arrived at the port of Mombasa aboard cruise vessel MSC Poesia.

Cabinet Secretary Ministry of tourism and wildlife Dr. Alfred Mutua (C) briefs the media when he received the second luxury cruise ship MSC Poesia at the port of Mombasa. Photos by Andrew Hinga

Since the onset of the cruise season in November last year, four ships have arrived with 8480 tourists.

The arrival of the vessel is a boon to taxis, curios and hoteliers. Last year, 3123 cruise ship tourists came to the country, while two cruise vessels have docked with more than 5000 tourists this year.

“This year, we are expecting to get more than Sh2 billion from the 12,000 cruise ship tourists, we should be getting even more,” said Dr. Mutua.

However, the CS noted that the vessel will stay in Mombasa for a maximum of 12 hours because of the yellow fever requirement set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We are going to talk to WHO about the requirement, but it is also up to us to ensure that even as tourists come to Kenya, we need to engage the respective cruise ship company so that before people board, they are given yellow fever inoculation,” stated the CS.

Most of the arriving tourists are expected to go for excursions in Diani, Watamu, Wasini, Mombasa and other parts of the country.

Mutua said about 70 tourists jetted out to Maasai Mara National Park early Saturday morning and by that visit alone for the next few hours, they will inject Sh23 million into the country’s economy.

According to calculations by the Ministry of Tourism, the country is expecting to rake in Sh50 million from the cruise ship short stopover.

“The bookings that we have so far are for more than 12,000 visitors coming by cruise ships. The reality is that this is a drop in the ocean because Kenya should be receiving to the tune 140,000 visitors during such visits,” said Mutua.

He added that the government is keen to ensure tourists have the best experience in the country, hence the ministry has initiated several changes to revamp the tourism sector.

In this regard, The CS plans to visit all the 47 to identify new tourism circuits, while urging tourism players to leverage value tourism through the provision of the best services as the country is competing with many other countries.

At the same time, Mutua has hailed the Kenya Electronic System for Travel Authorization (eTA) for streamlining the clearance of tourists.

Daniel Kinyutu, Chairman of the Mombasa Port Curio Sellers Association said their businesses were thriving because of the high number of tourists.

He encouraged the Kenya Tourism Board to keep on marketing the country as the best destination.

Meanwhile, for Alexander Joe, an Australian who is currently on holiday in Kenya with his wife, they have been cruising for more than a month.

“Of all the ports we have gone, this is the best port we feel welcomed. We want to say thank you to Kenya and her people, will look forward to going on safari. We want to say thank you for letting us come into your country and enjoying the privileges of your people,” said Joe.

On the other hand, MSC Poesia luxury vessel Capt. Robert Leota noted this was the ship’s maiden voyage to Kenya, but they will keep coming back because of the country’s beauty.

“This is the beginning of the series, thank you for the hospitality. I am sure our passengers will enjoy our stay today,” said Capt. Leota, adding that next time they will stay for at least three days.

By Sadik Hassan

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