With piracy threat faded, Kenya plans cruise ship rebirth

East Africa’s biggest port of Mombasa will spend 100 million shillings (about one million dollars) to build a new cruise ship terminal aimed at boosting tourism, officials said yesterday.

Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean struck a major dent into cruise tourism in the region, but the industry has rebounded since 2011, with enhanced naval patrols and deployment of armed guards on vessels.

“Before we used to receive 40 cruise vessels per year with 40,000 tourists,” ports spokesman Hajj Masemo said, adding the number had dropped to near zero due to piracy.

“But the vessels are now coming back, and we need to encourage this to boost our tourism,” he said.

The port had received 2,000 tourists on cruise ships this year, and that number is expected to reach 5,000 by end of the year, he said.

Work on the new facility will begin next year and will take about a year to complete, he said.

The Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers said it welcomed the project but said the government must also improve roads, ferries and the “cleanliness of the city” to attract more visitors.

Tourism is a massive source of revenue for Kenya, but it has been hit hard in recent years by a series of attacks by Islamist extremists from neighbouring Somalia.

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