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Mombasa Port to ink deal with Vanilla Islands Association to boost cruise tourism

By Philip Mwakio | February 16th 2020

The Port of Mombasa is poised to play a pivotal role in the development of cruise tourism along the Eastern rim of the Indian Ocean once a Memorandum of Understanding that will bring together stakeholders in the region is signed.

Speaking during a grand reception at the Port of Mombasa during the arrival of iconic cruise ship Ms Marco Polo yesterday, Inchcape Shipping Services Vice President Grand Homes said that preparatory meetings between Vanilla Islands, an affiliation of island nations, Inchcape Shipping Services and Kenya that will lead to cruise tourism collaboration will be signed.

The Vanilla island nations include Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros, Re-Union , Mayotte and the Maldives.

"Mombasa Port is a modern facility with all the infrastructures in place. You have a wonderful cruise terminal and well located in an area with diverse tourist attractions. This makes it ideal for cruise landing,'' Homes said.

MS Marco Polo arrived for a two-day Port stopover en-route from Zanzibar with 575 passengers and 346 crew.

The ship, according to maritime historian, Mr Crossbie Smith from the United Kingdom is on around Africa cruise having started its journey from Bristol in UM on January 6th.

'' We are documenting the ships' journey that has so far called at Ports in Portugal, Casablanca in Morocco, Cape Verse islands, Walvis Bay in Namibia, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, Mayotte and Zanzibar,'' Smith said.

Passengers disembarking headed for city tours while others boarded safari vehicles to Tsavo East National Park to view wildlife.

After Mombasa, the ship which sets sail today (Friday) will be heading to the Seychelles then Salalah in Oman and later enter the Red Sea before returning to base via the Mediterranean ocean.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director who was on hand to receive the vessel on its maiden port call said that they were excited to have Marco Polo in Mombasa and looked for more port visits in the near future.

The MD moved to allay fears of the dreaded coronavirus disease and added that they have put in place measures to ensure thorough screening of all passengers and crews arriving at the Port of Mombasa.

''We had officers from the Port Health today at the vessels reception area screening all disembarking passengers as the first precaution,'' the MD said.

Manduku presented a certificate and first port call shield to the ship's hotel director Jose Brito.

Kenya Coast Tourist Association (KCTA) chairman Victor Shitakah called for enhanced marketing of the Mombasa cruise terminal to enable many cruise liners to start calling at the Port of Mombasa.

The modern cruise ship terminal at the Port of Mombasa that is yet to be commissioned cost sh 1.3 billion terminal billed to be one of its kind in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region.

The terminal is expected to redefine tourism at the Coast and the country at large as it is set to push affluent tourists associated with cruise tourism who usually visit national parks as far as Maasai Mara once they disembark from the ships.

The facility is expected also boost transport, hotel, food and curio sectors. It is a facility set to modernize the port with a capacity to handle 2000 cruise ship passengers at a time.

It is 95 percent complete with waste management system being put in place to avoid direct discharge of filth into the sea.

It was funded by Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Trade Mark East Africa. It features a passenger reception, restaurants, conference facilities, baggage conveyor belts, duty-free ships, migration and health offices among other spaces.

Already the terminal has been fitted with closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and intrusion detection devices to beef up security.

Port authorities also expect the terminal to become a major facility for embarking and disembarking of cruise ships to take in essential provisions such as food and water in the region.

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