Kenya starts construction of cruise ship terminal at Mombasa seaport

MOMBASA (Reuters) - Kenya on Friday started constructing its first cruise ship terminal at its Indian Ocean seaport of Mombasa, hoping to boost tourism which brings in a substantial portion of the east African country's foreign exchange earnings. Cruise ships currently use the main cargo terminal at Mombasa. The new facility will be the seaport's first terminal customised for the luxury vessels. The 350 million Kenyan shillings ($3.4 million) terminal is being constructed under joint funding by the Kenya government and a private firm, Trade Mark East Africa. Mombasa seaport's managing director, Catherine Mturi, said they expected the terminal to boost the facility's cruise tourist arrivals by an extra 140,000 visitors annually and generate $52 million in the same period. Last year, 10 cruise vessels carrying 6,000 tourists called at the port and the number is expected to rise this year, Mturi said. “We are very keen on improving our port in this area to attract more passenger vessels and fully exploit the great potential that exists in our Blue Economy,” she said. Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean slowed cruise tourism in the region, but in recent years it has been picking up as naval patrols and deployment of armed guards on ships boosts security. ($1 = 102.1000 Kenyan shillings) (Reporting Joseph Akwiri; Editing by Mark Potter and Elaine Hardcastle)