Cruise Indian Ocean Association was founded under the auspices of Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA), one of the regional bodies set up by the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa. Under this co-operation the idea of considering the cruise sector in the development of port infrastructure and growing the regional economies through tourism was born. A standing committee on cruise tourism was formed with the specific objective of projecting a united image and working together in promoting destinations and establishing an Indian Ocean Cruise Association similar to the ones that exist in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Europe.
It was realized that the potential that exists in the region is enormous; characterized by a great diversity of natural wonders on land and sea coupled with competitive ports and tourism bodies to support cruise tourism.
Arising from this realization, plans were made to form a Cruise Association with the objective of collectively promoting the region as an attractive cruise destination and also to harmonize reception procedures. The Association was officially launched in Mombasa on 18th November 2000.
From the current constitution, the key objectives of the association are:
--To jointly promote and market the Eastern and Southern Africa region and South West Indian Ocean Islands.
--To perform liaison functions between members and cruise line stake-holders in the industry.
--To research, develop and maintain a statistical database on port networks and all other information pertaining to cruise tourism worldwide.
--To provide a forum for a unified and integrated approach to cruise tourism.
Cruise shipping is one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry. The industry shows no signs of slowing down, with 24 million passengers having sailed in 2016, a dramatic increase from 15 million 10 years earlier. Considering that the Cruise sector is still in the growth stage of the industry life cycle, the region stands to gain immensely from this opportunity.
The saturation of the traditional cruise circuits of North America, the Caribbean, Northwest Europe, the Far East and Australia, have offered an opportunity for new destinations. The trend to build modern, larger and faster vessels with quality onboard services, has made cruising more appealing to holiday makers.
Africa, specifically Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands provide an excellent option to the traditional cruise circuits. Our region represents an important niche for cruise development. The popularity of the safari/cruise package available in the region is growing rapidly.
Going forward therefore, there is a need for Port Authorities and major stakeholders to collaborate with partners, grow the industry by offering unique experiences with a view to fully exploiting the region's cruise potential.
By Mrs. Catherine Mturi-Wairi
Chairperson of the Cruise Indian Ocean Association and Managing Director, Kenya Ports Authority