Muscat: The number of cruise ships called on at different ports in the Sultanate has witnessed a significant rise during 2018-2019 tourism season.
According to data from the ministry of tourism, of the total of 298 ships, which is 106 more than the 2017-18 period, Port Sultan Qaboos received the highest number of 147 followed by 79 at Salalah port and 72 at Khasab.
The ministry expects that the number of cruise ships visiting the Sultanate would reach to 360 during the 2019-2020 season. While the number of tourists who came on board cruise ships in 2018 stood at 193,467, the number is expected to reach in 2019 to 220,000.
Abdullah al Saadi, head of the ships and cruise department, said that the ministry has been making efforts to promote cruise ships tourism locally and internationally. “Last year, the ministry participated in forums and exhibitions of cruise ships under the umbrella of Cruise Arabia which is comprised of ministries and authorities which patronise this sector in the GCC countries”, he said.
The Omani ports receive tourists who arrive here on board cruise ships from various countries. They come here to enjoy its beauty and to know its culture, traditions and heritage. They also want to enjoy the natural elements of the diversity of Omani environments.
Normally, the period between October and April is the time when the movement of cruise ships increases. The number of cruise ships visited tourist ports of Oman during the 2017-2018 reached to 192, of which 112 were docked at Sultan Qaboos port, 36 at Khasab port and 44 at Salalah port. As part of its efforts, the Ministry of Tourism organises, in cooperation with the local agents, a number of entertainment activities for the tourists arriving on board the ship.
The activities highlight the cultural aspect of the life of the Sultanate for which the country is known. The tourists who arrive enjoy these activities and take home beautiful memories of this experience. The Ministry of Tourism has also participated in the annual Miami exhibition of the United States of America which held in March this year. It also participated in the Middle East Forum for cruise ships.
The Ministry has also carried out joint promotional campaigns with tourist cruise, he said. The ministry welcomes a number of cruise ships when they call on at the Omani ports. This is to continue its relations with the cruise shipping companies, he said.
Rowas bin Hafiz Al Rowas, Assistant Director General for Tourism Development and Investor Services, said that the ministry has been making all-out efforts to attract major tourist cruise ships to call on at the ports of the Sultanate so that the country strongly emerges on the map of the navigation of these ships all around world.
He said that the movement of tourist cruise ships coming to Salalah port this year is expected to see massive increase as a result of the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism and joint efforts with Salalah Port, and concerned organisations, tourist companies, cruise agents to put Salalah port as a major port to attract major tourist cruise ships to visit Dhofar governorate.
“The cruise ship sector benefits the tourism sector directly and other such sectors indirectly. The local community also gets benefits where the movement of cruise ships”, Al Rowas said.
The cruise ships sector grows considerable during winter tourism season as they dock at Salalah port so that tourists can visit various parts of the governorate. These ships add value to the economy of the Sultanate in general and to the Dhofar governorate in particular either in the form of fees for the visit and the procedures of the ports of the Sultanate.
“This all happens in agreement with the travel and tourism companies, drivers of taxis as well as expenses made by the tourists during their visit to the craft centres, souqs, restaurants etc. This is how the objective of activating the economy and trade achieved in the governorate”, he said.
Mohammed Al-Dhahouri, Assistant Director of Internal Tourism in Musandam Governorate, said that cruise ships contribute to enhancing the added value of the tourism sector by contributing to the local product and activating the economic and tourism movement.
The port of Khasab is a tourist destination in Khasab, which lies in the far north of Musandam Governorate. It is located in the middle of the states of Diba al-Bayha and Bukhara. It overlooks the Gulf of Oman to the east and the Arabian Gulf to the north-west.
Strait of Hormuz is characterized by its winding coasts The government to develop the port in an integrated manner, to serve the tourism sector and trade alike, and one of the most important projects of the port project Khasab – Bkha coastal.
Tourism companies accompany the next tourist groups by sea to enjoy the culture and nature of Musandam.
The Sultan Qaboos Port is known for its tourist attractions due to its natural elements and the traditional Muttrah souq, which has traditional crafts, dresses, pottery items used by the ancestors of the local people in the past. Omanis still preserve their traditions and heritage.
At this port, the tourists enjoy guided tours in Muscat and the nearby tourist areas of the Sultanate.