The Aida Diva brought thousands of tourists to Bahrain
Bahrain wooing cruise tourists
Manama, December 2, 2013
By Ahmed Al Omari
Tourism authorities are increasing their efforts to attract more cruise ships to Bahrain following a decline in the number of vessels visiting the country.
The season got underway last month with the arrival of the luxury MS Europa 2, at the Khalifa Bin Salman Port, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It will make another stop before late February, along with 15 other ships from Aida Cruises, which regularly comes to Bahrain.
However, the numbers are nearly half of the 33 vessels that were scheduled to call in the country's ports last season.
"The Culture Ministry's tourism section is actively increasing its efforts to increase the number of cruise ships coming to Bahrain," said its media adviser Elie Flouty.
"This year it is expected that on average two ships will be coming to Bahrain a week but by next year we will be doubling that to four a week.
"Currently, the ministry is increasing its efforts by dealing directly with the tourism sector and communicating directly with private sector companies in the industry to help them market and promote Bahrain better.
"Also, when tourists arrive in Bahrain, we open all sites to them like the museum, the suq, forts and other attractions."
The Aida Diva brought in around 2,000 tourists to Bahrain when it called last month and every vessel that berths in the country is said to be worth around $300,000 to the economy.
But TUI Cruises, a Germany-based cruise line that came last year, decided not to return, confirmed APM Terminals Bahrain chief commercial officer Simon Brebner.
"We hope that next year TUI will be back but that is still just being discussed and nothing has been decided," he said.
"We provide ships with their port services and we engage with the respective captains of the ships but we are not involved in the marketing of Bahrain to cruise lines.
"We will assist in any way we can to attract more ships."
Around 30,000 tourists could still potentially visit Bahrain as part of this cruise season.
"Each cruise ship carries between 1,500 and 2,000 passengers and they go through the Gulf, usually to Dubai, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain," said Brebner.
"Most of the ships calling this year are from Aida, which is a long-term caller to Bahrain and is a very supportive cruise company to Bahrain."
Bahrain's cruise industry, which once boasted 50 visits by major cruise liners, has been hit hard by political turmoil since February 2011.
Only 29 of the scheduled 50 port calls by various liners were made to Bahrain in the 2010-2011 season, which was suspended because of protests. - TradeArabia News Service