According to Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organisers of Arabian Travel Market, the expansion of regional facilities and the associated potential increase in revenue from tourism will provide a catalyst for further port development throughout the Gulf.
“Diversification of the tourism product to capitalise on new market segments, and significant government investment in supporting infrastructure, has already demonstrated real time benefits for Dubai, which has seen passenger figures quadruple over the last five years,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
The future potential of regional cruise tourism will once again be a highlight at this year’s Arabian Travel Market which takes place at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from 30 April – 3 May. A dedicated onsite cruise pavilion will provide a platform for regional port operators, tourism service providers and international cruise lines looking to develop a well-rounded cruise product – both off and onshore.
Two major international cruise operators which will be exhibiting on the cruise pavilion at ATM include Royal Caribbean International and MSC Cruises both having shown serious regional commitment.
Abu Dhabi also launched a 1,300-visitor capacity tented cruise terminal at Mina Zayed in late 2011, ahead of the construction of a permanent dedicated facility to accommodate 600,000 passengers by 2030. Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has also prioritised cruise tourism as a strategic focus for 2012, following MSC Cruises’ decision to base its 59,000 ton MSC Lirica vessel in Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed Port, adding up to 39,000 annual cruise arrivals to the market.
Dubai’s Cruise Terminal, which was named the world’s leading cruise port for the fifth year running at the World Travel Awards 2011, has seen five-fold growth since launching its new facility in early 2010. Further expansion is also anticipated, with DP World planning to expand existing amenities and provide berthing facilities for up to seven visiting cruise ships to accommodate projected passenger numbers of 625,000 by 2015. The 2011 season closed with a total of 135 ships and 375,000 visitors, and these numbers are expected to increase to 150 vessels with in excess of 425,000 passengers in 2012.