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Cruise industry to take Dubai by storm

Up to 50 cruise ships are expected to dock in Dubai this winter, generating 64,993 potential customers – both passengers and crew – for local DMCs and tour operators.

Up to 50 cruise ships are expected to dock in Dubai this winter, generating 64,993 potential customers – both passengers and crew – for local DMCs and tour operators.

Luxury cruise ships Queen Mary 2, Costa Classica, AIDAcara and Black Watch will be making their debut in the Middle East this season, utilising the region’s first and only dedicated cruise tourism facility, the Dubai Cruise Terminal (DCT).

DMCs such as Dubai-based Gulf Ventures have already taken steps to cash-in on the influx of travellers – the company has secured a deal with Costa Cruises to handle all the embarkation and debarkation arrangements for its 17 cruises throughout the season, which runs from October until April 2007.

“With 1400 passengers per week for 17 weeks coming in from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it’s going to be fun,” said Deborah Bevan, operations manager, Gulf Ventures.

“We’re pleased that the cruise industry has finally woken up to Dubai. The idea is that Dnata and Gulf Adventures will provide a total cruise solution to include excursions, transfers, meet-and-assist, and visas. That is our ultimate goal; to be a one-stop shop.”

DCT, which opened in 2001, measures 3300m² and can accommodate two ships simultaneously on its 335-metre quay. In 2005, it handled 13,000 cruise ship passengers, but 20,000 and 30,000 are expected to arrive in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

A DTCM survey found that 80% of cruise passengers in Dubai would extend their visit to the emirate during their next visit, and 95% said they would recommend others to visit Dubai, which signals the opportunities ahead for DMCs.

Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Dubai Cruise Terminal (DCT) officials are presently coordinating with government organisations such as the Dubai Ports Authority (DPA), Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) and Dubai Customs, to plan for the large volume of inbound traffic the cruise industry will generate.

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