Cruise boost for business

The Port Sultan Qaboos (PSQ) has received its first cruise liner this year, marking the beginning of a long cruise tourism season in the Sultanate.
Shopkeepers at Oman’s traditional market, Muttrah souq as well as hundreds of vendors near the souq eagerly look forward to the season every year as more cruise liners would mean more footfalls, and more revenue.
Tourists visiting these shops buy souvenirs, knick-knacks, curios, among others.
“We are happy over the arrival of this year’s first cruise liner, which is carrying nearly thousand passengers from different countries,” said Ashraf Kavvayi, a shopkeeper.
“Another cruise liner is expected this month followed by many more this season,” he said.
Viking Orion, the first cruise vessel to dock here, began its cruise from the Aqaba Port in Jordan. Belonging to the Viking Ocean Cruises family, it is currently on its way to Musandam from Salalah, where it had a brief stopover.
The cruise liner will visit a number of countries around the world before concluding its voyage.
Passengers on the Viking Orion visited a number of tourist spots and historic landmarks, including the Muttrah souq.
Cruise tourism, a season that extends up to April next year, is a major contributor to the country’s tourism revenues.
With two passenger ships expected in Oman in October and many more in November, December and January, cruise tourism is poised for a big jump.
The Ministry of Tourism, on the back of huge promotions on cruise tourism and with support from both local and international tour operators, has been able to attract visitors in large numbers.
In 2017, 221,000 visitors visited Oman by sea, while the number stood at 217,000 in 2016, according the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).
“We have a masterplan for supporting cruise tourism besides the ongoing promotions,” said a senior official from the tourism sector.
Apart from attracting cruise liners to Suhar, Sur, Duqm and Suwaiq, a waterfront project is also coming up. It will have six hotels, retail outlets, marine exhibition centre, commercial complex, besides a modern port, the first phase of which is expected to completed by 2020. The project comprises four phases.