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More than 200 tourists arrived at Mombasa port aboard a cruise ship yesterday, marking the beginning of the high season.
The 216 passengers and 222 crew members aboard MS Silver Cloud arrived at 6 a.m. and were scheduled to tour the town and visit Shimba Hills National Reserve, Kenya Tourism Board assistant corporate communications manager Kimutai Ng’eno said.
« This is the beginning of the cruise tourism season which lasts until early next year. We expect another vessel to arrive on December 10 but for security reasons the shipping line has not given further details, » Mr Ng’eno said.The vessel arrived from Seychelles and was expected to depart for Zanzibar last evening.
« Last season was good with six vessels arriving at the port and as of September we received at least 1,180 cruise tourists, » Mr Ng’eno said, adding that MS Nautica, which arrived at the port in November with 684 tourists and 386 crew members, marked the end of last season.
The bulk of the tourists who arrived yesterday are from the United Kingdom (50) and the United States (49).
Others are from Australia (28), Germany (17) and Canada (13). Tourists from Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Brazil were also on board. The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) plans to spend Sh100 million on building a cruise terminal which is expected to improve the port’s capacity to handle the vessels.
The World Travel Awards voted Mombasa port Africa’s best cruise port in Africa in June this year.
Five years ago, over 10,000 tourists arrived at the port each year before the number nose-dived following pirate attacks in Somalia waters.
Only two cruise ships docked at the port in 2014 with 900 passengers. According to Mr Ng’eno, improved security in the Indian Ocean where piracy attacks have been eliminated has led to a rise in cruise tourism.
The success of the Kenya Defence Forces and naval forces of the international community in fighting piracy in the East African coast has seen a resurgence of cruise tourism in the region with KTB expected to scale up marketing of the destination in international markets in a bid to attract more visitors.