Dubai tourism officials say that the city is on track to meet a predicted 20 per cent surge in the cruise liner industry within the region.

At five times the projected world average tourism increase of 4.1 per cent, the arrival of thousands of new visitors from cruise ships from around the globe means millions in new revenue, say tourism officials.

To meet the demand, Jamal Humaid, Manager of the Cruise Terminal at Port Rashid, confirmed with XPRESS that plans are under way to build a new cruise liner terminal to replace the existing facility now at Port Rashid in Dubai.

The existing facility has typically welcomed more than 20,000 passengers a year but was expected to handle more than 80,000 passengers in 2007.
A bigger facility is now needed to handle even more expected visitors in years to come.

Developers Nakheel confirmed that it has not decided upon a final design or size for the new super cruise liner terminal which will be located at the new Mina Rashid development where dredging has begun to create 540 hectares of new land which will include 17.5 km of waterfront promenade and a residential and office development to be home for 225,000 people.

Humaid, meanwhile, said more than 80 ships have already called upon the city this year.

“Through 2008 we have a total of 82 ship calls so far at Port Rashid,” Humaid said. “We have 73 calls booked so far for 2009 which will increase. These are all expected to operate from the temporary cruise terminal which will be coming up soon.”

Calls for 2009 “are still being confirmed,” he said.

As Dubai’s cruise liner industry expands, its tourism base is also widening which will attract more tourists as time goes by, he said.

“The more ships that feature Dubai in their itineraries exposes a wider audience to the destination,” Humaid said, adding that visitors “plan to visit Dubai again on personal holidays and stay for longer durations and recommend the destination to others as well. This all adds to Dubai’s tourism and GDP.”
The spinoffs help other industries, he said, from travel agencies and transport operators to shipping agents.

Two companies, Costa Cruises from Italy, and Aida Cruises from Germany, have made Dubai their hub for weekly cruises around the region in the winter.
“With more companies considering the destination as a hub, the cruise industry in Dubai is only scheduled to go full steam ahead,” Humaid said.