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Cruise season picks up in the Sultanate


Muscat: The Ministry of Heritage and Tourism (MHT) is expecting the number of cruise ship passengers will be around 240,000 at the end of this year.

This will be a record high from 85,092 in 2020, 16,588 in 2021, and over 150,000 in 2022.

The number of ships visiting the three main ports (Port Sultan Qaboos, Khasab Port, and Salalah Port) has gone up from 28 in 201, to 81 in 2022 and 183 in this season (2023/24).

As part of the efforts made by the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism (MHT) to encourage cruise tourism in the Sultanate of Oman, the Muscat International Airport received over 800 to 900 tourists contracted with Marella International over two days.

Passengers arrived from Gatwick, Manchester, and Birmingham on a TUI flight and embarked on a regional cruise tour onboard the Marella Discovery ship. At the same time, 200 to 300 passengers from the ship returned to the United Kingdom by a TUI flight.

This is the first cruise ship-flight experience conducted in the Sultanate by Marella Discovery Ship in the post-pandemic period with period as previous operations were conducted during the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 seasons. MHT has contracted with one of the international consulting companies as it prepares a special strategy for the cruise tourism sector.

Marella Discovery will conduct a similar ship-flight experience in April 2024. MHT has been working in cooperation with the Royal Oman Police, Asyad Ports, Oman Airports, Transom, Travco Oman, and Khimji Shipping to ensure the smooth transfer of passengers between Muscat Airport and the Sultan Qaboos Port.

The ports of the Sultanate of Oman received 16,588,000 cruise ship passengers in 2021, compared to 85,092 passengers in 2023.

This year, the number of cruise ship passengers arriving in the Sultanate has been 176,132 until September, which is expected to go up to 240,000 by the year-end. All ports in the country are expected to witness 183 cruise visits during the winter 2023/24 season. Salalah Port on Friday received the cruise ship Sibon Encore on Saturday, carrying 865 passengers.

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