Tourism chief says strategy includes plan to ensure that cruise passengers felt the ‘soul’ of Dubai.

Dubai remains on track to receive one million cruise passengers by 2020, according to Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM).

In a keynote address to cruise line executives and regional industry stakeholders at the opening session of Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, Kazim said DCTCM’s plan to ensure that cruise passengers felt the “soul” of Dubai.

He said 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.

17 cruise line executives from 14 of the world’s leading cruise lines are attending the annual Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum taking place in Dubai.

Cruise lines represented include AIDA Cruises; Carnival UK; Crystal Cruises; Cunard; Cruise & Maritime Voyages; Marella Cruises, TUI Group; MSC Cruises; P&O Cruises; Pullmantur Cruceros; Royal Caribbean Cruise; TUI Cruises; Star Clippers; Windstar Cruises; Virgin Voyages.

Esam Ahmed, commercial manager, Mina Rashid & Mina Hamriyah, DP World, told the Forum that growth plans for Mina Rashid cruise port includes the allocation of additional berths to handle up to seven mega ships and the development of a new terminal to meet market demand by 2020.

Delegates also heard that Abu Dhabi welcomed a record 315,000 cruise visitors in 2017 – nearly 40,000 more than the previous year.

Saeed Al Dhaheri, cruise sector and city tour development manager, Department of Culture & Tourism (DCT) Abu Dhabi, said: “A recent survey commissioned for cruise passengers showed an overall satisfaction score of 96 percent – an overall 32 percent increase since 2015 – with consistently high scores across different aspects of their experience during their trip to the capital.”

The Forum also heard that Ras Al Khaimah is planning to open a new cruise terminal in February 2018 as it looks to grow the sector which currently makes up 11 percent of cruising capacity in the region.

“Cruise tourism within the Arabian Gulf has experienced explosive growth over the past five years,” said Chris Hayman, chairman, Seatrade UBM EMEA. “As deployment continues to boom, destinations across the region have already made major investments in cruise terminal facilities to accommodate an expanding fleet of ships, which are increasing in capacity from season to season.”

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