OMAN. The Sultanate of Oman’s Ministry of Tourism has underlined the need for an Arabian Gulf cruise ship strategy given the steady growth of the cruise ship industry in the region in recent years.
The Ministry pointed out that cruise shipping is a great success story for the Arabian Gulf States, with blistering growth from the mid 1990s.
Growth is accelerating as a result of high passenger exchanges made possible by the development of major aviation hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Bahrain. Further, the last 3 years have seen the entry of new cruise companies including smaller expedition cruise ships seeking to explore the coastline in closer detail.
Oman’s Ministry of Tourism and cruise ports saw significant growth, with 2011 being a record year for cruise ship arrivals to Port Sultan Qaboos, Muscat, and further growth is expected in 2012. The Government of Oman is also progressing with a master plan to transform Port Sultan Qaboos into a world-class cruise destination, while several other Gulf States are redeveloping their cruise ship facilities.
HE Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of Oman’s Ministry of Tourism said: “There are benefits for all ports in the Gulf of Arabia considering a regional cruise ship marketing strategy, backed by an attractive regional brand and associated messaging. A strategy would look at opportunities to develop cruise activity from the GCC and international markets, as well as from the Gulf’s inclusion in world cruise itineraries, and attracting a greater share of the cruises from Asia.”
As a cruising region, the Arabian Gulf is compact, with all major ports located within a day’s sail, or less, for most vessels. The Ministry sees this compactness as a reason for advocating a regional approach for tackling issues related to this segment and stresses that a regional strategic approach would encourage information sharing, coordinated passenger surveys, and a research-based approach to marketing the region.
“While there have been past calls for a regional cruise ship strategy, I think Arabian Travel Market provides a valuable opportunity to rekindle thinking and discussion on the proposal, and I look forward to discussing this opportunity with colleagues,” concluded Al Mahrouqi.