Najib Balala, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, highlighted that cruise tourism was growing globally with around 76 million travellers using cruise lines every year and that Kenya would like to tap into this sector

During the opening ceremony, Balala said: “This is a new product that we need to diversify the market. Cruise tourism is a lucrative market for Kenya, with visitors arriving by sea being high-end holidaymakers.”

Kenya is in the final stages of the construction of the new cruise terminal in Mombasa, which is set to open in the new year. Balala added that "we have seen growing interest by cruise liners attracted to Mombasa port”.

The facility will have a lounge for passengers, an immigration office, reception counters for cruise operators, restaurants and souvenir shops. Cruise tourists will enjoy facilities similar those offered at the international airports.

A survey carried out in 2015 by Tourism and Transport Consult International on cruise tourist potential in Kenya, predicted that Mombasa could attract 140 000 visitors a year. In the past ten years Mombasa had 40 000 cruise tourists, according to the survey, which projects that numbers will increase after completion of the new terminal.

Balala believes there is an “opportunity to tighten up the Indian Ocean cruise circuit by co-ordinating Cape Town, Durban, Madagascar, Maputo, Zanzibar, Seychelles, Mauritius and Mombasa, and talk about Indian Ocean security for business to thrive and boost tourism.”

The ninth Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE) took place from October 2-4 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi. Balala said the presence of over 130 hosted buyers was a positive indication of their readiness to sell the destination to all visitors within their networks.