Dubai, UAE – Dubai’s marine tourism will see 58.3 per cent growth by 2015 as an increasing number of cruise lines are attracted to the region, officials said.
“Cruises are an important part of Dubai’s tourism as a whole and it’s growing rapidly,” Hamad Mohammad Bin Majren, executive director of business development at Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said yesterday.
Aboard the 958-foot cruise ship Costa Deliziosa docked at Port Rashid in Dubai, officials launched the new cruise season.
Bin Majren said Costa’s entry into Dubai with the vessel Costa Europa had provided the launchpad for the sector with several competitors following.
“In 2009 to 2010 there was 30 per cent growth. In 2011 we expect huge growth. By 2015 we expect to reach 190 ship calls with 575,000 passengers,” he said. Other cruise lines have also expressed interest, he added.
The Dubai Government this year launched a new cruise terminal at Port Rashid. Bin Majren said a temporary cruise facility is also being built to handle the growth expected in the next two years.
Asked whether port developments elsewhere in the UAE and the Gulf were creating competition, he said the development is much needed.
“We need others to develop so cruises will have more destinations on their itineraries. More options will mean more ships,” he said. This year, there were 120 ship calls with about 325,000 passengers on board.
Costa Cruises — together with Aida Cruises, the German brand and affiliate of the group — was the first company to market regular cruises in the Arabian Gulf, turning Dubai into a major cruise destination and contributing to its growth as a tourist resort. Bin Majren said that prior to this, the terminal received only about five ship calls in the whole of 2001.
Named earlier this year in Dubai, the Costa Deliziosa is the first cruise ship to be named in the Gulf. During the winter, the vessel is conducting seven-day cruises in the Arabian Gulf, departing from Dubai and stopping at Muscat, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.
The Costa Deliziosa, weighing in at 92,000 gross tonnes, has a total guest capacity of 2,826.
Costa Cruises, based in Genoa, Italy, is Europe’s largest cruise company and currently has a fleet of 15 ships, all flying the Italian flag.
Last year, Costa Cruises carried about 1.3 million guests.
120 cruise ships called at Dubai ports this year
30% growth in traffic through last year and this year