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Mombasa port gains global recognition as cruise hub

By Philip Mwakio | March 29th 2016

KENYA: The Port of Mombasa is attracting growing attention from cruise tourists sailing along the Indian Ocean rim.

At the recently concluded Seatrade Cruise Global Conference and Exhibition in Fort Lauderdale, US, international cruiselines praised the port’s beautiful scenery and beach attractions.

According to the president of Intercruises Shoreside and Port Services, Mark Robinson, Kenya has made a notable comeback after piracy setbacks that discouraged cruise lines from the Mombasa port for about five years.

Mr Robinson, whose company provides services for ocean and river cruise liners, said Kenya needs to work more closely with other countries to create regional itineraries that would draw in more cruise tourists.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Chairman Marsden Madoka, who led a delegation to the conference, said KPA would set up a dedicated cruise berth at the Mombasa port “now that the region has started regaining its lost glory in cruise tourism”.

He added that KPA was looking forward to working closely with key government agents and other stakeholders in East and South Africa and the islands to promote cruise tourism.

“A reduction in piracy off the coast of Somalia and Gulf of Aden has helped a great deal to re-introduce cruise business, but a lot more needs to be done to attract more cruise lines,” said Joseph Weloba, the general manager of operations at Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS), which handles cruise vessels.

“The facilities to receive the cruise liners, the infrastructure to support excursions, and overall intent from the Government to reduce the cost of hosting a cruise vessel will be required to bring in new business to Kenya.’’

The country has been promoting cruise tourism under the umbrella of the Cruise Indian Ocean Association. The association’s members include Tanzania, Zanzibar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sudan and Mozambique, countries that could create the perfect itinerary for cruise liners sailing in the Indian Ocean.

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