The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) plans to upgrade Mombasa port into an ultramodern cruise complex with a lounge, restaurants, souvenir shops, and reception counters at berths 1 and 2.
Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) has teamed up with the KPA to build the facility in the next six months in efforts to boost tourist earnings.
Tourism secretary Najib Balala said Mombasa’s favourable status as a cruise ships stopover city, which saw 6,000 tourists visit last year, urgently deserves the upgrade to facilitate docking and evacuation of visitors to their hotels.
The project launched at weekend will see an existing building renovated and an exclusive 24-hour docking hub built to speed up arrivals and exit clearance.
An estimated 140,000 tourists are expected to use the new facility upon completion, earning the exchequer a Sh520 million annually.
Under the deal, the TMEA would provide Sh100 million while KPA is expected raise Sh350 million to implement the project.
TMEA director-general David Stanton welcomed the partnership saying tourism has potential to employ more Kenyans.
Mr Balala said tourists arriving via cruise ships would also enjoy recently introduced incentives where children aged below 16 were excluded from paying visa fees.
He added that Malindi airport was being expanded to accommodate larger planes and pave the way for direct European flights to the resort town.