Cruise tourism in the Sultanate witnessed a significant growth of 43.6 per cent in 2019 with the arrival of 283,488 tourists compared to
193,467 recorded during the same period in 2018.
The Ministry of Tourism said that government initiatives, including infrastructural developments, and the ongoing tourism campaigns with focus on the country’s rich civilisation, culture, heritage, diverse adventures, and popular attractions, aided the surge.
The cruise market helps enhance local tourism, boost economic returns, and diversify the government’s sources of income.
According to Abdullah Saif al Saadi, head of cruise and charter flights, Ministry of Tourism, the ministry has been collaborating with relevant government and private sector entities and ship owners and operators to enhance cruise tourism in Oman, as well as help develop the capability and efficiency of local ports to handle giant cruise ships.
“We aim to attract international cruise ships as part of our overall travel and tourism campaigns. To achieve this, we have been improving our ports, implementing the best practices and international standards, and enhancing our facilities, to name a few”, he said.
Part of the ministry’s initiatives is faster licence and permit application processes and approvals.
“This year, we are confident that we will surpass our previous accomplishments — thanks in part to the ministry’s ongoing partnerships with relevant institutions to make Oman one of the world’s popular cruise ship destinations”, he said.
By the end of 2019, Oman welcomed 283,844 cruise tourists. We expect the number to reach 300,000 in 2020, he added.
To be part of the cruise ship itinerary, many countries negotiate with cruise ship companies worldwide. The move reflects this segment’s vital role and influence in boosting a country’s tourism industry. Additionally, cruise ship tourists are known to go back to a country they have visited before for an opportunity to explore longer its many beautiful places with their families.
In 2019, the giant Marella Discovery made a stopover in Oman for the third time.
A total of 1,400 passengers — 700 arriving and 700 departing tourists — were exchanged via Muscat International Airport and Sultan Qaboos Port. The cruise ship is slated to come back to Oman for the fourth time on April 16 and 17, carrying with it 1,800 passengers.
The passengers will be exchanged as well, with 900 arriving and 900 departing. This is also expected to promote winter tourism in Oman.
The large ship will make 27 stopovers in the different ports of the Sultanate during the 2020-2021 period as well. These are 16 visits to Sultan Qaboos Port; 8 to Port of Khasab; and three to Port of Salalah.
MSC company has been adding MSC Bellissima ship to Oman ports during this season 2019-2020. MSC Bellissima is the fifth cruise ship of MSC to make a stopover in Oman after MSC Lirica, Splenida, Magnifica and Orchestra. During the winter season, MSC Cruises will carry out 49 visits to Sultan Qaboos Port, Khasab Port and Salalah Port.
The number of cruise ships visiting Salalah this year is expected to increase following the improvements at the Port of Salalah, which were made possible by the Ministry’s efforts and collaborations with cruise agents and other relevant organisations.
Fazah Fort: Situated in the town of Liwa, Wilayat Liwa, Al Batinah Region, Fazah Fort dates back to many centuries and played