In cruise mode!

Omani folklore, handicraft exhibition and a tent reflecting the life in desert are some of the impressive line-up of shows at the Port Sultan Qaboos to welcome tourists.
Organised by the Ministry of Tourism, the programmes are being held to reinvigorate the promising cruise tourism industry in the Sultanate.
According to the ministry, in November alone, Port Sultan Qaboos received 19 cruise ships with a total number of 35,600 visitors.
In the first week of this month, three more ships — Horizon Pullmantur, AIDAbella and MSC Splendida — carrying 6,000 visitors moored at the port.
Taking cue from impressive growth in the number of cruise tourists who arrive in the country, the ministry is now planning to extend its operations even to small ports.
“This will attract more cruise operators and increase business for the local tourism industry as well,” says a statement from the ministry.
Ports in Suhar, Sur, Duqm and Suwaiq will initially be developed so that more visitors could come to the country and can enjoy the real Arabian culture.
Presently, cruise ships arrive only in Muscat, Khasab and Salalah.
Port Sultan Qaboos, with its transformation into a tourism destination, makes it a vibrant, active and high quality public realm to Muscat.
“There is a plan to work on the development of some ports to receive cruise ships, namely, Sohar port, Port of Sur, Duqm port and Suwaiq port,” said a statement from the ministry.
Oman continues to be a major tourist attraction for tourists from across the world. This includes visitors from Asia and Europe, especially the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.
A statement posted on the ministry’s official website, quoting Salim bin Adi al Mamari, Director-General of tourism promotion, says, “Oman has seen a remarkable growth in cruise tourism, a trend that the Ministry of Tourism aims to promote and grow.”
Reports indicate that tourist flow to the country is expected to witness a compound annual growth rate of 13 per cent between 2018 and 2021.
In 2017, the number of visitors by cruise ships witnessed a growth by 2.3 per cent to reach 222,000, compared to 217,000 visitors in 2016.
Oman’s National Strategy for Tourism 2040 includes a six-per cent rise in tourism contributions to GDP and a near-doubling of visitor numbers to five million annually.
The strategy aims to increase the contribution of the private sector in tourism projects to 88 per cent, and government investments by 12 per cent, which includes infrastructure projects.