Oman to be developed as ‘cruise’ hub in Middle East

MUSCAT: Over 700 tourists arrived at Muscat International Airport from Gatwick, Manchester, and Birmingham airports in the UK on Wednesday and left for Port Sultan Qaboos to start their cruise tour of the region, arranged by Marella Cruise International, in the ship Marella Discovery.

Meanwhile, Marella Discovery, carrying 4,000 passengers, also arrived at Port Sultan Qaboos for the third time during the 2019/2020 season.

It may be noted that the sea/air exchange programme has been launched as part of the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism to promote the cruise sector by making different ports of the Sultanate the destination of origin for many operators.

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Marella Discovery will make 27 visits to the ports of the Sultanate during the next tourist season 2020/2021,  including 16 visits to Port Sultan Qaboos, eight visits to Khasab Port and three visits to Salalah port.

The number of cruise ships visiting different ports in the Sultanate witnessed a significant rise during the 2018-2019 tourism season. According to the Ministry of Tourism, 298 ships (which is more 106 than the 2017-18 period), were anchored at Port Sultan Qaboos, which received the highest number at 147, followed by 79 by Salalah Port and 72 by Khasab Port.

The ministry expects that the number of cruise ships visiting the Sultanate would reach to 360 during the 2019-2020 season. While the number of cruise tourists who came to different ports of the Sultanate in 2018 stood at 193,467, the number is expected to reach 220,000 in 2019.