Dubai emerges as leading cruise destination

A cruise ship at Dubai Cruise Terminal

Long established as an excellent maritime city with geographical advantages, excellent infrastructural facilities, ports and logistics, Dubai started looking at developing cruise tourism very lately compared with other destinations.

However, the emirate utilised its relatively late entry into cruise tourism sector to its advantage by creating better facilities and services than others in the near and far.
The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) see Dubai benefiting immensely from the cruise industry in the coming years. Operated by the DTCM, the Dubai Cruise Terminal was officially inaugurated by HH General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defence Minister and chairman of the DTCM in 2001 at the state-of-the-art Port Rashid complex. The Dubai Cruise Terminal is the world’s first to receive ISO-9002 certification and also the world’s only cruise facility run by the government tourism body.
“Cruise tourism plays a crucial role in the overall growth and development of the tourism industry in Dubai,” said Khalid Bin Sulayem, director general of DTCM. “We realised its importance long ago and created the infrastructure and services that were needed to tap its potential. There has been an impressive growth in cruise tourist arrivals since the start of the Dubai Cruise Terminal. We will continue to devote our efforts to further promote this economically-crucial sector of the tourism industry.”
In a survey, 80 per cent of the cruise passengers in Dubai revealed that they would extend their visit to the emirate during their next visit and 95 per cent said they would recommend others to visit Dubai to enjoy its all-appealing facilities, pristine beaches and unparalleled shopping options.
Dubai is considered as the home to one of the best cruise terminals and its world-class facility received global recognition when it won the best cruise terminal prize in a trade show in Miami in the US. From a mere eight calls by cruise liners in 1996, the landmark facility played host to 12,771 cruise tourists between 2001 and 2003.  Cruise tourists from across the world are expected to be around 12,000 in 2005, up from an approximately 8,000 visitors in 2004.
As many as 15 cruise ships are scheduled to arrive in Dubai this year. The emirate is hopeful about the year 2005 witnessing over 33 per cent growth in cruise passengers compared with the previous year.
“We started the New Year on an aggressive note and the arrival of the cruise ships from different parts of the world is expected to enhance our image of an ideal year-round business and leisure destination,” said Awadh Al Seghayer, acting manager of the Dubai Cruise Terminal. “The department’s aggressive promotional agenda is helping the world get enlightened about Dubai’s cruise tourism.”