Africa’s cruise ship market emerges from virus shadow

What you need to know:

  • More than 100 cruise liners are expected to dock in South Africa from October during the 2022/2023 cruise season, resuscitating an industry dulled by Covid-19

Nairobi. Africa’s luxury cruise ship market is gradually bouncing back from the pandemic, with South Africa poised to get the lion’s share of the continent’s inbound passenger ferries.
More than 100 cruise liners are expected to dock in South Africa from October during the 2022/2023 cruise season, resuscitating an industry dulled by Covid-19.
According to Business Insider SA, passengers aboard these cruise liners will inject much-needed cash into the V&A Waterfront, specifically, the cruise terminal’s Makers Landing.
“While much of the 2021/2022 cruise season was disrupted, Cape Town can look forward to a full schedule when ships return in October. Cruise Cape Town, a project within Wesgro, anticipates 104 ship visits, made up of 26 cruise ships, to dock in the Mother City during the 2022/2023 season,” it reported.
“Almost 200,000 passengers will be spending their money in and around Cape Town while ships are docked for on-land excursions, supporting the jobs and businesses which have been hardest hit during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
It is a major shot in the arm of the industry in South Africa which was hugely battered by the global economic fallout from the pandemic. Before Covid-19 hit, South Africa had aimed to grow its cruise market to more than 1 million passengers by 2025.
Now as countries begin to roll back Covid-19 restrictions and allow their citizens to travel, South Africa, known for some of the best tourism offerings globally, is expected to see growth not just in the cruise ship segment but in the safari and other segments as well.
Durban, another hub for cruise ships, will be keen to exhibit its new, $12 million KwaZulu Cruise Terminal.
Other African countries like Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Mauritius and Seychelles are also lining up to receive cruise ships from the United States and Europe.
Africa is expected to benefit from growing consumer adoption and the repositioning of cruising. In its pre-pandemic analysis, Skift publication projected that overcrowding in traditional markets and growing demand for more adventurous itineraries would help Africa attract more cruise lines to its ports.
“African cities are 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,” it said.
Market research firm Technavio, in its latest report, also points to this trend.
“Tourers’ inclination toward exploring different destinations by availing best cruise deals, is a trend that is expected to impact the industry positively during the forecast period,” the report released in May reads in part.
“The growth is attributed to the availability of cost-effective one-way flights, the inclusion of exotic itineraries, and cost advantages associated with repositioning cruising,” said.

Africans will also be jumping on cruise ships
The report further notes that strong global economic recovery and an increasing number of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) in developed and developing economies are driving the global cruise tourism market growth.
The 2022 Knight Frank Wealth Report shows that 10,257 more Africans joined the league of the world’s HNWI (those with a net worth of more than $1 million) in 2021, reflecting an 8.2 percent jump from 2020. The number now stands at more than 135,000.
Meanwhile, AD Ports Group, a major Abu Dhabi-based logistics facilitator has agreed to help the North African state to further develop some of its ports for cruise liners.
AD Ports Group inked two agreements with the Red Sea Ports Authority to develop and operate a terminal in Port Safaga, on the Red Sea.  In addition to developing 1,000-metre (3,280-foot) docking sections capable of handling large cargo ships and providing services, the group promises to extend cruise tourism in Egypt, specifically in the Safaga, Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada ports — all of which are on the Red Sea. The services will also connect with Aqaba, in Jordan.
In May, the continent’s tourism ministers met to seek ways to push Africa’s tourism sector from a high of 70 million tourists in 2019, to 200 million.
According to Statista, prior to the pandemic, the global cruise industry had grown to be worth over $27 billion.