Cruise tourism used to be a luxurious way of travelling for the rich. But nowadays, it is accessible for many Europeans, especially in Germany and the United Kingdom. In recent times, Dubai has become a major player in cruise tourism within the Middle East.
Meanwhile, African cities seem to be eyeing a bigger slice of the global cruise market, with upgraded terminal buildings attracting an ever-growing number of international cruise ships to ports as varied as Mombasa and Cape Town. African ports for years have been little more than an occasional stop on an extended world cruise, but global cruise lines are increasingly expanding their destinations and extending their time in local waters, with profound benefits for local economies reliant on tourism.
Key to the recent growth has been considerable investment in cruise terminal facilities. In 2015 the management of the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town invested $4 million into revamping the precinct’s Cruise Terminal, and over the past four years the facility has welcomed more than 150 vessels and upward of 260,000 passengers. According to Cape Town Tourism, the projected value of the cruise tourism industry between 2017 and 2027 is estimated to be in the region of $15 million.
In the South African city of Durban, where Italian brand MSC Cruises already operates a popular schedule of domestic and regional cruises aimed at the middle-tier South African market, construction on a new $13.9 million cruise terminal is already underway. MSC Cruises has also invested in shore facilities in Mozambique, a popular stop for its itineraries in east Africa.
Further north, Kenya is also hoping for a slice of the growth, with a new cruise terminal in the port city of Mombasa due to be completed in early 2020.
The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) “has prioritised cruise ships calling at the port of Mombasa due to the high impact created in the coastal region … the KPA has committed its resources to modernize the cruise terminal to meet international standards,” Daniel Manduku, managing director of the KPA, hinted.
Renowned for its potpourri of business ventures in Nigeria that includes television, amusement park, and event planning under the umbrella trademark name of Hi-Impact, Solutions Media and Infotech Limited (SMIL) recently announced its entry to nautical tourism with its cruise line division, Hi-Impact Cruise.
Hi-Impact Cruise is a curated concept aimed to explore waterways that are home to Lagos, and as well as avail a different perspective of the Lagos landscape along shorelines to enthusiast seeking leisure from all over the world. In addition, the idea was specifically tailored to meet the needs of persons, who otherwise could not afford the cruise experience outside Nigeria due to reasons of cost and foreign exchange.
The Cruise will operates two high-grade luxury yachts in her fleet, both solidly designed with lavish interiors. If you love freedom, privacy, a wide variety of choices, and the feeling that goes with star treatment, Hi-Impact Cruise offers varieties to select from.
Speaking at the tour of the cruise ship in Lagos, Adeyanju Lupede, Chairman, SMIL, highlighted on the various amenities poised to fulfill each guest’s adventure.
The Hi-Impact cruise is brought in to encourage Nigerians to stay at home, and not going to Dubai or Paris, or anywhere in Europe to cruise for a day. We ensured that all the facilities to make guests comfortable would be inside here. That will be in terms of entertainment, there will be good food and a conducive, well air-conditioned environment.”
A sole ship (Eugene 1) has been rolled out to serve as the cruise line’s first passenger ship to kick start operations scheduled to commence in a few months’ time. Towering at a height of 12 meters with a length of 39.15 meters, the interior – depending on the event – will accommodate guests within the 500 to 700 ballpark figure. The four-hour per day experience utilizes the three-deck cruise ship, with each tier serving a different function.
The first deck houses the main hall complete with banquet-style setting, a mini-stage, and a bar. It readily houses about 220 guests in this configuration, and offers limited view of the marine scenery. The palatial stair links the main hall to the interior balcony of the second deck, which is styled in a similar pattern to replicate the décor of the main hall.
Depending on the taste of guest or nature of event, an entirely new set can be replicated to suit need.
By sharp contrast, the third deck is marked with an ambience of outdoor living regulated by a retracted roof that offers a protective shade from sunlight and rain.
According to Lupede, this portion renders a vantage point to view from, especially at nighttime. For those, who may not indulge in sightseeing, they will have the option of screening movies at any time of their choice using in-house media facilities.
Whilst he is still in the process of finalising plans for Hi-Impact’s imminent launch, he didn’t shy away from relaying some of the challenges experienced from regulatory bodies.
“Well, I think when a government doesn’t talk about tourism, there must be some kind of rebate. Tourism is part of this government, both Federal and State. Federal because everyone is talking about diversification from crude oil into entertainment section that encompasses tourism. And you cannot underestimate what entertainment brings to the table all over the world. And if you are doing that, there must be some kinds of incentives for those who are bring it up here.”
He continued: “When people decide to come because they want to cruise or they want to have fun, they will stay in the hotels; they will pay for the visa in dollar. Some revenue comes to the federal government in other areas. They will go by public transport, which is an economic advantage to the people at large. When you then decide that somebody is investing in something that the government gains from, that person deserves a rebate. Well, that’s not coming,” Lupede concluded.
Though new to this area of tourism, the outfit has plans for the regular maintenance of the 2017 built cruise liner. He likens the act of carrying out regular maintenance as a culture they deeply embrace at SMIL, touting it as the one fine quality that has kept them relevant in every aspect of their business ecosystem.
Hi-impact is currently in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for cases of emergency and safety hazards.
With the birth of Hi-Impact Cruise, Lupede once again challenges himself to uphold the mantra he cites as, “influencing and controlling any sector we find ourselves in.”