Dubai seeks to expand its cruise port facilities

Dubai: Dubai is looking to expand its cruise terminal facilities in a bid to accommodate the increase in the number of cruise ships.

“We have to expand our capacity. Our dock takes up to five ships. The numbers are going to increase and our cruise terminal is not enough. There are expansion plans for the future and we will announce them at that time,” Hamad Mohammad Bin Mejren, executive director of Business Tourism at the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said on the sidelines of a press conference yesterday.

“Port Rashid has become a favourite port of call for an increasing number of global cruise operators. We are confident that as a leading tourist destination, Dubai will continue to act as a catalyst for the development of the industry in the region as a whole,” he added.

According to DTCM, this year’s cruise season, ending in late summer, is expected to bring 425,000 passengers on 120 cruise ships.

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DTCM expects cruise passengers to increase to 135 ships with 475,000 passengers next year, 150 ships with 525 passengers in 2013, 165 ships with 575,000 passengers in 2014 and 180 ships with 625,000 passengers in 2015.

According to Mejren, Dubai’s cruise tourism industry has quadrupled in the last five years.

The cruise terminal, which was opened last year, is currently used by Royal Caribbean, Aida and Costa Cruises.

“The range of brands from all segments of the cruise market now regard Dubai and this region as very important destinations,” Chris Hayman, chairman of Seatrade, said.

“We’re starting to see particularly strong growth emerging from Europe and many of the brands committed to this market are European brands. It’s now progressing at a pace which suggests that it will become a more important source market for cruise passengers globally and for this region,” he added.

Mejren said DTCM also has plans to extend the tourism season.

“Dubai used to have seasonal tourism and through DTCM we want to turn that into year-round tourism through Dubai’s summer festivals,” he said.

Dubai is hosting the Sea-trade Middle East Cruise Convention, which starts at the Meydan Hotel today and runs till Thursday.

The convention has attracted 30 cruise lines which include Costa, Aida, Royal Caribbean International, MSC, TUI, Hapag Lloyd, Seabourn, Silversea, Holland America Line, Variety Cruises, Louis Cruises, Fred Olsen and Saga.