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Cruise traffic to increase by 110%

By Ashaba K Abdul Basti




More than 130 cruise ships are expected to call into Dubai next year – representing a 110 per cent rise on 2007’s figures.


And authorities say they hope the jump is a signal the emirate is becoming a regional hub for cruise liners and their passengers. Visitor figures are expected to rise to almost 400,000 in 2009.


Awadh Seghayer Al Ketbi, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing executive director for Heritage, Conventions and Cruise, said: “Our aim is to build on our foreseen success to make Dubai a regional cruise hub.”


He said he hoped Dubai would outperform popular regional ports such as Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt and The Maldives. Al Ketbi said the visitor figures have been increasing steadily over the past five years and Dubai Cruise Terminal is expecting 96 cruise ship to stop this year with more than 200,000 passengers.


“We are determined to keep the numbers growing and we have initiated a number of programs to help us achieve this,” said Al Ketbi.


Two cruise ships, Costa Europa and Costa Romantica, have made Dubai Cruise Terminal their hub, delivering 2,700 passengers to the emirate each week.


Another cruise ship, Aida, has extended its length of stay at Dubai Cruise Terminal and will be doubling its annual number of calls in Dubai, from nine to 18.


Two more cruise ships, Aida Diva, with a 2,050 passenger capacity, and Costa Victoria, capable of carrying 2,300 passengers, will be hubbed at Dubai during the 2008-2009 season. The DTCM is in talks with four international cruise operators that will be hubbing in Dubai starting with the 2009-2010 season, he said.


“We are talking with several niche market cruise ship operators because we want to have a variety of products throughout the year.”


DTCM has also approached developer Nakheel to discuss making one of The World islands a tourist attraction where ships with tourists can call for a day. The property developer is currently conducting studies on the issue, said Al Ketbi.


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Ship-shaped Dubai Cruise Terminal opened in March 2001, measures 3,300 square metres and is able to accommodate two ships simultaneously on a 335m quay.


To support the increasing number of ships and passengers, DTCM has just concluded a study on the construction of a bigger cruise terminal capable of accommodating four large ships. Al Ketbi said DTCM will start work on the terminal soon.


This year promises to see the number of cruise ships rise from the 28 that stopped in Dubai in 2006, and the expectations for 2009 are even greater.