Cruise ship with 394 tourists from Bahamas docked at the Kenyan port of Mombasa on Sunday as the east African nation steps up its marketing blitz to attract more visitors.
Kenya Tourism Board director Muriithi Ndegwa said 90 percent of tourists onboard the Ms Silver Whisper, the first cruise received this year in the country, are from the U.S who landed in the country despite existing travel advisories.
“This is very strong endorsement for the tourism sector that has recorded a decline of tourist arrivals.
A strong confirmation of secure waters in the Indian Ocean and growing security,” he told journalists in Mombasa.
He said piracy off the Coast of Somalia had dealt cruise ship tourism a severe blow after international cruise liners gave Mombasa port a wide berth.
The visitors are expected to tour all tourist attraction sites at the coastal region, including the Mombasa city, Tsavo National Park, Amboseli, Shimba Hills Game Reserve.
Kenya Ports Authority Gichiri Ndua said the port has allocated 880,000 U.S. dollars for rehabilitation of berths to promote cruise tourism.
“With a decline of piracy at the Indian Ocean, we are optimist that the numbers of vessels will increase in the coming year.
“The government is committed to promoting cruise tourism,” he said.
Silver Whisper berthed at the Overseas passenger terminal, Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour. Silver Whisper is a cruise ship that entered service in 2000, and is operated by Silversea Cruises.The passenger capacity is 382 passengers, and there are 295 crew members. WIKIPEDIA PHOTO – LEE GILBERT
The tour comes days after Britain said it is working with the Kenyan government to review the travel advisory issued to its citizens.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said his government is in close talks with Kenyan authorities to deal with the threat posed by terrorism as a whole.
Hammond told a forum of business community from both Kenya and Britain that his government issued the travel advisory with the aim of protecting its citizen but not to harm its relationship with Kenya.
Kenya Defence Force spokesman Colonel David Obonyo told Xinhua that the military has heighted operation to deal with ‘al-Shabaab’ terror group both on land and on the sea.
“We have managed to weaken the ‘al-Shabaab’ militants by taking over their town that were under the control and increased surveillance along the borders,” said Obonyo.
The East African nation’s best year for cruise tourism was 2011, when Kenya had more than 1,200 tourist arrivals by sea.
The negative growth in the sector was mainly attributed to piracy across the Indian Ocean, among other factors.