Cruises to raise Dubai's tourism goals

Dubai expects a 20 per cent increase in cruise passengers this season as new ships call on the city.

Dubai Cruise Tourism (DCT) expects 157 ship calls during the 2016-17 season, spanning from October through to July, which will help the emirate inch closer to its 2020 target of 20 million tourists a year.

This season, DCT expects 600,000 cruise tourists compared with more than 500,000 a year ago.

“Through our cruise tourism strategy, we aim to bring in 1 million tourists to Dubai by 2020 and we’re heading in the right direction,” said Jamal Al Falasi, the director of DCT.

Dubai will have more than 23 cruise operators, including six that will use the emirate as a base. This number goes up with the addition of one of the world’s largest operators, Norwegian Cruise Line, as well as the UK-based Thomson Cruises.

The DCT forecasts an 18 per cent growth in ship passengers to 600,000 tourists, a far cry from 10,000 in 1998. Part of the reason that this segment is growing for the country is the introduction of multi-entry visas two years ago. This has opened the door to potential emerging markets such as China, India, Russia and South America, according to the DCT.

Packages will include a variety of options, including a 7-day trip around several regional destinations from Thomson, and even the extended 21 or 32-day excursions provided by Norwegian.

Next year, Celestyal Cruise Lines from Greece will be the first in the region to offer a three-night/four-day itinerary, tapping the Mediterranean markets.

Dubai is looking to peg the region as a winter destination for European and Mediterranean travellers. “Celestyal Cruise Lines choosing Dubai as its home port in the region is yet another instance of the collective approach of tourism, airlines and port authority leading to a compelling tourist proposition,” Mr Al Falasi said.

“With such a broad market of visitors choosing the emirate, cruise offers travellers the chance to view the city from a different perspective,” he said.

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LeAnne Graves

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