MSC Cruises to make Dubai its home port for the region
As the 2012-2013 cruise season comes to a close with the Sea Princess from Princess Cruises due on 10th June 2013, plans are already in place to increase the sector’s contribution to the growth of tourism in Dubai, in-line with the vision to attract 20 million visitors per year to the Emirate by 2020.
The 2013-2014 season will see Dubai welcome MSC Cruises as its newest home porting partner with the arrival of C.S. MSC Lirica in November. During the season, the cruise liner will make 20 turnaround calls to Dubai bringing in over 60,000 passengers. MSC Cruises will join Costa Cruises and AIDA in employing Dubai as their home port in the region. Further, more than 20 world-class cruise lines currently include Dubai on their itineraries.
Today the Emirate’s cruise sector plays host to over 94 nationalities from around the world with key markets being Germany (38.18%), UK (13.75%), and Italy (11.71%). During the 2012-2013 season, Dubai hosted 407,825 passengers, an increase from 396,554 in the previous season. Numbers are set to rise during the 2013-14 season as 110 ships carrying approximately 420,000 passengers are expected this year.
Looking further ahead, the 2014-2015 season promises to bring even more growth with TUI Cruises resuming its operations in the region: C.S. Mein Schiff 2 will operate seven-night long Gulf cruises from Dubai, with destinations expected to include Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Bahrain. The liner will have a throughput of over 75,000 cruise tourist from its 20 turnaround calls to Dubai. Additionally, Dubai will host a “Double Call” when both the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth will port in Dubai on the same day – the first time ever that the two Cunard Cruise liners have arrived in Dubai simultaneously for a full passenger turnaround.
Speaking about the growth in the sector, Hamad Bin Mejren, Executive Director for Business Tourism in DTCM said, “Cruise tourism offers a fantastic way to travel that is very cost effective without compromising luxury, comfort, or variety in experience. It’s a sector which is stimulating increased travel among tourists both from in the region and beyond. Our objectives are to grow cruise tourism both in terms of international visitors using Dubai as an embarkation point and residents of the UAE taking cruises around the region.”
With annual income of the Cruise Tourism sector expected to grow to approximately 840 million dirhams per year by 2015, the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) believes that cruise tourism is a key growth sector that will bring great economic benefits to the region, increasing overall expenditure in the tourism sector and boosting the economy. Expanding the growth of cruise tourism is one of the key drivers in attracting 20 million visitors per year to Dubai by 2020.
Commenting on DTCM’s role, Bin Mejren said: “The cruise tourism sector in the region is strong and its continued growth remains extremely promising, bringing with it huge economic and development opportunities. Considering this, the DTCM has played, and continues to play a significant role in attracting interest from international cruise line operators to organise regular itineraries from Dubai to the region’s ports. Of course, these efforts are supported by Dubai’s already alluring tourism attractions, its excellent air connectivity, its beautiful beaches, hotels and international shopping malls, and its straightforward visa procedures.”
Dubai Cruise Tourism is availing itself of the exposure that comes at the region’s pre-eminent travel expo, which is celebrating its 20th edition and is welcoming over 2,500 exhibitors from 87 countries. Dubai Cruise Tourism is co-exhibiting with five large stakeholders in the region’s cruise tourism sector, the cruise line operators Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean International, and inbound tourism destination management specialists DNATA Gulf Ventures, Orient Tours, and Sharaf Tours.
The timing of ATM 2013 is opportune for Dubai Cruise Tourism, which forms an integral part of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing charged with the promotion of the Emirate as a cruise tourism destination, both regionally and globally, as well as the management and operation of Dubai Cruise Terminals.