The tourism industry got a boost Saturday after the arrival of a cruise ship in Mombasa County carrying 642 passengers.
The MS Nautica arrived from Marshall Islands in North Pacific Ocean located between Hawaii and Australia.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala welcomed the guests, saying international arrivals between January and September this year have increased.
“During the period under review, arrivals through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport grew by 11.1 per cent to record 655,569 compared to 589,958 in 2016.
“And 66,699 visitors through Moi International Airport compared to 65,600 in 2016,” he said.
Mr Balala said the government is striving to increase the numbers, calling for more partnerships with agents specialising in cruise travel.
He said security improvement in the Indian Ocean has contributed to the rise in tourists numbers.
Popular attractions include Haller Park, Amboseli National Park and Shimba Hills.
He also expressed disappointment over delays in construction of the cruise ship terminal at Berth number 1.
“Our dream of having a cruise ship terminal has taken too long. I shall communicate with KPA because the contractor is under them. This is unacceptable.
“This year we went to the Seatrade Global Cruise convention in Fort Lauderdale with Kenya Ports Authority officials where we met several cruise ship operators, the most interesting one was Princess Cruises that was willing to be in Kenya in 2019,” he said.
The Sh350 million project involves the modernisation of an old building at the port’s berth into a world class terminal.
Mr Balala said the government will not be able to sign contracts with cruise ships due to lack of the facility to showcase.