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Al Mahrooqi addressing the gathering at Seatrade forum.

Oman to unveil new cruise tourism strategy

MUSCAT, December 10, 2014

Oman is working on a long-term tourism strategy that will identify the fundamental requirements to establish the sultanate as a vibrant tourism destination, with the cruise sector being a major component, said a senior official.

Maitha Al Mahrooqi, undersecretary at Oman's Ministry of Tourism, was speaking at the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum in the presence of leading GCC government representatives from the ports and tourism sectors and other senior officials.

Leading cruise companies including Costa; Crystal Cruises; Cunard; Holland America Line; MSC Cruises; Noble Caledonia; P&O Cruises; Princess Cruises; Royal Caribbean International; Seabourn; Silversea; and TUI Cruises attended the event held at the Al Bustan Palace in Muscat.

The Seatrade brand is now part of UBM Live that connects people and creates opportunities for companies across five continents to develop new business, meet customers, launch new products, promote their brands and expand their markets, said the organisers.

“Oman is an essential part of TUI Cruises' Middle East itineraries”, said Tine Oelmann, the director of port operations, Shorex and Ground Handling.

“Both Muscat and Khasab offer passengers a different experience after the cityscapes of the UAE. In Oman they can find heritage, culture and nature, highlighting the diversity of this region,” she noted.

TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff 2 is currently operating its second Middle East winter cruise programme incorporating seven day butterfly cruises out of Dubai and the German brand is set to return again in 2015/16.

The company also unveiled plans to deploy a third ship, Mein Schiff 3 to the region for 2016/17.

Also returning to Oman in 2015 is UK small ship operator Noble Caledonia. Island Sky will undertake a turnaround in Muscat, including overnight stay next November, with calls also in the Omani ports of Sur and Khasab.

"Oman is a rich seam to be mined," stated Mike Deegan, the fleet director.

“Noble Caledonia has been away from the Middle East for a few years now, but we are delighted with the itinerary that will take in Sur, Khasab and in 2016, Salalah. Part of our reason to be here for the Forum is to investigate more ports and islands along the Omani coastline – a fact-finding mission – to increase the experience for our passengers in Oman,” he added.

News from Celebrity Cruises included details for its 2016-17 deployment and plans for many more overnight port stays including double overnights, maiden calls, new Arabian Sea and India itineraries and Signature Event Sailings that take in special celebrations.

Round-trip sailings from Abu Dhabi with calls at Dubai and Muscat are among the new itineraries.

Oman ministry officials said there had been an 18 per cent increase in cruise passengers this year.

"In 2013, 115 ships called into Oman, a figure that is set to increase significantly increase over the coming three years,” stated Khalid Al Zadjali, the director of Tourism Events, Oman’s Ministry of Tourism and host of the forum.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Oman | strategy | cruise tourism |

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