By Emmanuel Juma (Director of Communications, Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife)
IN what is a clear sign that Kenya’s cruise ship tourism has rebounded, yet another cruise ship docked at the port of Mombasa last Saturday, bringing with it 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew members. The vessel is on a world tour, and Tourism and Wildlife cabinet secretary Dr. Alfred Mutua led a team of Government officials and stakeholders in welcoming the visitors.
The arrival of MSC Poesia , adds to four the number of cruise ships Kenya has received since November last year- the beginning of cruise season, posting 8,480 number of arrivals in the last 3 months.
Cruise ship tourism plays a pivotal role in boosting the economy of coastal nations, and Kenya is no exception. With its stunning coastline along the Indian Ocean, Kenya has recognized the potential of cruise ship tourism as a catalyst for economic growth. In recent years, the Kenyan government has taken strategic measures to harness the benefits of this industry, aiming to enhance the country’s global appeal and create sustainable development opportunities.
According to CS Mutua, Cruise ship tourism contributes significantly to Kenya’s economy by generating revenue from passenger spending on shore excursions, local goods, and services. Additionally, the influx of tourists stimulates various sectors, including hospitality, transportation, and retail. The economic impact ripples through local communities, providing employment opportunities and fostering entrepreneurship.
In 2019, the global cruise industry welcomed nearly 30 million passengers, creating jobs for 1.8 million people, contributing 154 billion dollars to the global economy. Kenya is eyeing a larger piece of the cruise tourism pie and the recent construction of a new cruise ship terminal is the first step towards tapping into this lucrative segment, according to CS Mutua. The port of Mombasa has the capacity to attract 140,000 passengers per year
Among the crew members on the ship are 16 Kenyans who applied for the jobs online. The CS said with the growth of cruise ship tourism, many jobs are opening up and Kenyans stand a big chance of snapping up such opportunities considering the high levels of training in the hospitality industry.
The cruise company MSC cruisers has employed 2,500 Kenyans who work in various ships all over the world. Kenyans are hired when they apply online or respond to local advertisements. “You do not need to know anyone to get a job. All you need is to be competitive and pass the various interviews by the company”, said the CS
The Kenyan government has been proactive in promoting sustainable tourism practices within the cruise industry. Collaborating with cruise operators, the focus has been on minimizing the environmental footprint of cruise ships and preserving the rich cultural heritage along the coastline. Strict regulations and guidelines ensure responsible tourism, preserving marine ecosystems and safeguarding cultural sites.
Recognizing the need for world-class infrastructure to accommodate cruise ships, the Kenyan government has invested in upgrading and developing ports along the coastline. Modernized facilities enhance the overall cruise experience for passengers and make Kenya an attractive destination for cruise operators. Investments in port infrastructure also have positive spillover effects on other industries, such as shipping and logistics. “My ministry is actively engaging relevant stakeholders among them the Ministry of transport and operators to ensure that the cruise industry benefits from the presence of infrastructure, said CS Mutua.
To position Kenya as a premier cruise destination, the government has implemented robust marketing strategies. Participation in international cruise trade shows, collaboration with cruise industry associations, and targeted advertising campaigns showcase Kenya’s unique offerings to a global audience. These efforts aim to attract more cruise lines and passengers, boosting the industry’s overall growth.
In collaboration with cruise operators, the Kenyan government has worked to develop tailor-made tour packages that highlight the country’s diverse attractions. From wildlife safaris to cultural experiences, these packages cater to the varied interests of cruise passengers. This customization enhances the overall tourist experience and encourages repeat visits.
To ensure the smooth operation of cruise tourism, the Kenyan government has invested in training programs for local communities and businesses. Training initiatives focus on hospitality, tour guiding, and other relevant skills, empowering locals to actively participate in and benefit from the cruise tourism value chain.
Cruise ship tourism holds immense potential for Kenya’s economic growth, and the government’s proactive measures signal a commitment to harnessing this potential responsibly. By investing in infrastructure, implementing sustainable practices, and marketing the country’s unique offerings, Kenya is positioning itself as a sought-after destination in the global cruise industry. As these efforts continue to unfold, Kenya is poised to navigate a course of sustainable growth, ensuring that cruise ship tourism becomes a vital contributor to the nation’s prosperity.
The port of Mombasa is capable of attracting 140,000 passengers annually.