Dubai cruise tourism eyes China, India, Russia

Dubai: Dubai’s tourism body is eyeing visitors from China, India, Spain, Portugal and Russia to boost the emirate’s cruise tourism sector and reach its target of one million cruise tourists by the end of 2021.

The target would mark a significant jump from the 625,000 cruise passengers Dubai recorded in the 2016/2017 season and comes as the emirate plans to have 10 cruise ships based at its port.

A top spokesperson from the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) said that new technology on-board cruise ships is making cruise tourism appeal to younger travellers and boosting demand in the segment.

“Cruise tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the tourism industry. Annually, there are 26 million cruise tourists globally. With the new ships coming in, it’s no longer just the elder people who are taking cruises; it’s now even younger people,” said Hamad Bin Mejren, senior vice-president for the stakeholders department at Dubai Tourism.

The tourism board expects to see 725,000 cruise tourists in the 2018/2019 season, and 825,000 cruise tourists in the 2019/2020 season.

Currently, German tourists account for a lion’s share of cruise passengers in Dubai, making 40 per cent of passengers. Bin Mejren said he expected to see an increase in the number of cruise visitors from India and China due to their relative proximity to Dubai.

“I think these two markets’ contribution as cruise source markets will increase greatly over the coming years. Chinese visitors now don’t need a visa [to the UAE], so that will help increase the numbers,” he told Gulf News during the Arabian Travel Market (ATM).

“The traditional source markets are the UK, Italy and Germany, but we’re trying to expand the markets. India and China are two of the growing travel markets in the world, so we’re promoting cruise to these markets.”