Cruise ships boost Bahrain tourism
Manama, January 8, 2012
More than 13,000 tourists have visited Bahrain as part of the cruise tourism season, according to officials.
The figures emerged as the kingdom welcomed the fourth of 15 cruise ships that will dock at the Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP).
Luxury liner Aida Blu, which heralded the start of the season on December 14, brought nearly 2,500 passengers and 650 crew members to Bahrain on Wednesday.
'The tourists have been welcomed in traditional style in the presence of an official delegation during the last three visits and will continue to be welcomed in such a way,' said a Culture Ministry tourism sector spokesman. 'The Aida Blu will dock every Wednesday for the next 10 weeks.”
'We continue to promote such activities to encourage more and more tourists to arrive into Bahrain. We are also printing promotional material in German offering full information about tourist attractions with the aim of improving and developing the quality of service we offer,' he said.
The spokesman said this would help activate and develop the tourism sector and attract more tourists and visitors to Bahrain, generating significant revenue for the sectors concerned and the national economy.
'All tourists on board the Aida Blu are shown films about Bahrain's tourist attractions and given promotional material about Bahrain before they arrive so that they are aware of what they are going to see,' he said.
The official said a special reception area has been created to receive visitors as they disembark, where they have the option to go around an exhibition offering local products and handicrafts which represent Bahrain's heritage.
Culture Ministry tourism assistant under-secretary Nada Ahmed Yaseen earlier said the cruise season, which runs until April, was a significant development for Bahrain.
Large cruise ships were arriving at a time when many others had taken the destination off their itinerary following the unrest, she said.
She said Aida and one other company were the only ones that kept Bahrain on their itinerary this season.
Yaseen said officials were focusing on boosting Bahrain's status as a preferred tourist destination at regional and international levels.
Aida Blu local agent, Al Sharif Group’s assistant shipping manager, Hassan Al Sharif, said staff had pulled out all stops to welcome the tourists.
During their day-long visit, tourists are taken to the Bahrain Fort, the Bahrain National Museum, Al Fateh Mosque, the Tree of Life, ancient houses, Al Jasrah Handicraft Centre and the Bahrain International Circuit.
Approximately 34,000 tourists and 9,100 members of crew are expected to arrive in Bahrain during the season, officials said.
Bahrain's cruise season between November 2009 and April 2010 saw 50 port calls by major cruise liners. However, only 29 took place between November 2010 and February last year after anti-government protests erupted.
Costa Cruises, which had scheduled 30 visits, skipped Bahrain and opted for Khasab in Oman instead. – TradeArabia News Service
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