The target of one million passengers passing through Dubai’s cruise terminal is closer to reality as revealed by official sources. Presenting a keynote address to cruise line executives and regional industry stakeholders at the opening session of Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM) confirmed that Dubai remains on track to receive one million cruise passengers by 2020.
Addressing delegates, he also referenced DCTCM’s plan to ensure that cruise passengers felt the ‘soul’ of Dubai and there would be an extra concentration on excursions that show the heritage of the city and its older parts, as well as the more modern areas and attractions.
Esam Ahmed, commercial manager, Mina Rashid and Mina Hamriyah, DP World, highlighted the growth plans for Mina Rashid cruise port which includes the allocation of additional berths to handle up to 7 mega ships (up from the current 6) and the development of a new terminal to meet market demand by 2020.
The first day’s Summit Session ‘managing growth, planning for the future’ saw senior government officials and tourism stakeholders then discuss their own growth plans for their destinations.
Delegates heard that Abu Dhabi welcomed a record 315,000 cruise visitors in 2017 – nearly 40,000 more than the previous year. A recent survey commissioned for cruise passengers showed an overall satisfaction score of 96 per cent - an overall 32 per cent increase since 2015 – with consistently high scores across different aspects of their experience during their trip to the capital.
Oman’s Mohammed Zahran Al Mahruqi, program director, ASYAD, spoke of the infrastructural port growth plans, while Bahrain’s Yousef AlKhan, director of Marketing & Tourism Promotion, Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), told delegates of the 45 per cent increase in cruise passengers in the 2016-2017 season to 76,185.
Shaji Thomas, director Destination Tourism Development, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, told delegates that RAK Port is upgrading its existing passenger terminal to accommodate boutique cruise vessels – which currently account for 11 per cent of cruising capacity in the region. He also spoke of energetic growth plans for the UAE emirate; a new cruise terminal opening in February 2018 and announced that the world’s longest and highest zip line – surpassing the previous record holder in Puerto Rico – due to open soon.
Seventeen cruise line executives from 14 of the world’s leading cruise lines attended the annual Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum that took place at Lapita; located within Dubai Parks and Resorts, Dubai, UAE from December 12 to 13.
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