MAPUTO, About 400 tourists on board a cruise ship were unable to visit Maputo on Sunday because of the negligence of the Mozambican immigration officials who should have dealt with their passports but were unable to do so, according to media reports here.

Cruise ships stop regularly at Maputo port, and tourists are encouraged to spend a few hours in central Maputo, before the ship sets sail again.

On Sunday, the immigration staff showed up late, and said that the machines needed to recognize passports and issue visas had broken down.

The ship’s crew could do nothing but tell the tourists that they would be unable to visit Maputo, and the ship would carry on to its next port of call, Durban in South Africa, en route to Cape Town.

This is not the first time that inflexible attitudes by immigration staff at Maputo port have sabotaged the government’s attempts to attract tourists. According to another report, a few weeks ago, tourists simply gave up rather than wait in an apparently unending line for their visas.

Speaking at last week’s Tourism Forum in Maputo, the general manager of Maputo Port, Osorio Lucas, said that many tourists on board cruise ships preferred to stay in the luxury of their cabins, or enjoy the facilities of the ships, rather than pass through immigration and venture into Maputo city.

Lucas said it was not merely immigration problems; the authorities seemed to be making no attempt to welcome the tourists. Lack of security, the negative image of the city, the failure to offer tourist routes and content that could attract tourists,” he said, were among the reasons why the 20,000 visitors to the port last year were not transformed into 20,000 tourists.