UAE betting big on cruise ship tourism


As the UAE looks to diversify its economy, tourism officials are betting big on the country’s cruise ship travel industry. With more luxury liners and affluent travelers keen to experience the glamour of the Emirates, Dubai is fast becoming a glittering port of call in the country’s burgeoning cruise ship industry.

With the opening in February of the new cruise terminal at Port Rashid, Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) is betting on continued vigor in the cruise tourism sector. And their bet seems to be paying off. The economic woes of global tourism have spared UAE’s cruise ship travel industry, which is currently witnessing impressive gains in passenger traffic, along with associated benefits to local economies.

Italian cruise company Costa Cruises announced last month it would open an office in Dubai. Keen on developing the promising cruise tourism industry in the region, Costa plans dedicated liners operating from Dubai.

Fleets based in Dubai cater to Arab clientele, offering segregated prayer rooms, Arabic food and beverages, onboard signage in Arabic, as well as Arabic speaking staff and entertainment channels, the company said.

Costa Deliziosa is the first cruise ship to be inaugurated in an Arab country. And its success at stimulating the surrounding economy has not gone unnoticed. Costa’s passengers generated more than $18 million for the local economy last season, in spending on shore excursions, transport, port fees and dining in port.

“Our objective is to invest in Dubai, the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East,” explained Costa Cruises President Gianni Onorato.