The outlook for Salalah cruise season 2019-20 is bright with some 50 cruise liners lined up from October to May 2020.The movement this season is better than the previous season due to effective measures taken by the stakeholders like Ministry of Tourism, Port of Salalah and Asyad Group, which is one of the most comprehensive end-to-end logistics providers in the Middle East.
According to sources in the Ministry of Tourism, a total of 38,537 tourists arrived in Salalah in 28 cruises till mid of October, as about 50 big and small ships are expected in the current 2019-20 season.
Rawas bin Hafeidh al Rawas, Assistant Director-General for Tourism Development and Investor Services, called it a positive trend as Salalah is fast grabbing the attention of the tourists from around the globe.
“There has been direct and indirect positive return to the Sultanate with the cruises calling the Port of Salalah. It gives boost to winter tourism, the locals get indirect job opportunities, while arrival and departure of cruises boost the port,” said Al Rawas. Al Rawas reiterated the fact that the ground handlers’ agreements with transport operators, individuals and taxi drivers create job opportunity for many during
“Moreover, the tour operators need local tour guides. There are licensed tour guides who find the cruise season a good opportunity to earn,” he said.
The operators involved in the ground handling of the cruises expressed happiness over growing trend. Ahmed al Afrai, Salalah Branch Manager of Zahra Tours, said that there was surge in calling of cruises at the Port of Salalah with more than 30 being handled only by the Zahra Tours.
He suggested to do guess work while mentioning the number of tourists being handled by Zahra in Salalah as the full capacity arrival of these 30 plus cruises would have been more than 60,000. “But not all these cruises come full capacity,” he said, dropping a hint that the season 2019-20 was going far better than the previous season.
Al Fawaz, another cruise ground handler in Salalah, has almost the same number of ships this year compared to last year, or may be two to four less, but with higher number of tourists.
“One ship got cancelled due to some unavoidable reasons which affected four calls to Port of Salalah. But the outlook is positive and we see more movement of cruises at the port this season,” Said Ahmed al Fareh, Managing Director of Al Fawaz Tours, said.
The ship with the largest capacity with them to serve is Meinc Schiff 5 having 1,268 passengers and the smallest is MS Albatros with 700 passengers.
Al Fareh cited sense of safety and security in Oman, the most important reasons for the tourists to opt for Salalah or for that matter whole of Oman.
“Since I have been operating in tourism sector for quite long, I really find tourism scene picking up in Salalah,” he said.