•The facility has been developed at a cost of Sh350 million with Trademark East Africa giving Sh100 million as development partner.
•Kenya Ports Authority will operate the terminal in the interim before seeking a private operator.
The tourism sector has received a major boost with the completion of the ultra-modern cruise ship terminal at the Port of Mombasa, expected to be commissioned anytime.
Developed at a cost of Sh350 million, it is among latest projects to be completed by the Kenya Ports Authority(KPA), which targets to enhance passenger handling capacity and support growth of the country's tourism sector.
Trademark East Africa (TMEA) is a development partner in the project and contributed Sh100 million.
According to KPA managing director Daniel Manduku, the terminal comprises duty-free shops, restaurants, conference facilities and offices for key stakeholders in the industry.
These, Manduku said, would ensure that tourists and stakeholders in the tourism sector receive adequate services.
“The new cruise terminal is now complete and ready for commissioning,” Manduku said, “The terminal is expected to play a key role in boosting the tourism sector in the coast region and the rest of the country.”
The first vessel to dock at the new terminal is expected in early February, KPA principal communication officer Hajj Masemo told the Star yesterday.
“The facility will become operational anytime depending on arrivals. We have a cruise ship scheduled for early February which we hope will still be coming,” Masemo said on telephone.
KPA is crossing its fingers the recent terrorist attack in Lamu and the ongoing tension between the US, Iran and their allies does not affect global travel schedules for vessels.
The ports authority will operate the terminal in the interim before seeking a private operator.
“We(KPA) will operate the facility for now but plans are in place to seek an independent operator later,” Masemo said.
Tourism CS Najib Balala has been upbeat the cruise ship terminal will boost the tourism sector, which has grown in recent years.
According to Balala, the terminal will encourage the number of holiday makers visiting the country, making Kenya a lead cruise tourism destination.
"We want to have entertainment , have a shopping area and introduce guests to local cultures and cuisines before they proceed to the mainland or other parts of the country," Balala said at a past tour of the project while it was still under construction.
This is the first modern cruise terminal in the country, a facility which is expected to encourage ships to call at the Port of Mombasa.
It is expected to boost the number of arrivals where last year, sea ports and land borders contributed to the arrival of 345,093 visitors of the total 1.5 million international arrivals between January and September.
The last major call by a cruise ship at Mombasa was in November last year , when MV Albatros docked with 446 passengers and 346 crew members.
Traditionally,the country has been receiving an average 10 vessels annually with over 40,000 tourists visiting the country, numbers that are expected to rise with the new facility and improved services on the ground.