Sharjah – MENA Herald: Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority has unveiled a bright outlook for the emirate’s cruise tourism sector as the Authority announced its participation at the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum in Doha on December 7 and 8, 2015. This is the third consecutive year of SCTDA’s participation in the regional cruise event, which will bring together cruise line executives, regional stakeholders and government authorities to discuss key issues impacting the development of the Arabian Gulf’s cruise industry.
“Cruise tourists will make a crucial chunk of the visitors to the emirate in coming years as we aim to attract more than 10 million tourists as part of the Sharjah Tourism Vision 2021. Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum comes as a unique opportunity to raise awareness about Sharjah’s growing potential as a cruise destination, establish new ties and foster relationships with existing cruise line partners,” said HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of SCTDA.
HE Al Midfa said Sharjah is preparing for a period of busy cruise activity during the 2015-16 season with as many as 37 calls, predominately from liners such as ‘TUI Cruises’, ‘MSC Cruises’ and ‘Costa Cruises’ and ‘AIDA Cruises’. “These calls will bring an estimated 80,000 cruise passengers to the emirate, mostly from European countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the UK,” HE Al Midfa stated.
“Cruise tourism has picked up in Sharjah in recent years as the emirate has enhanced its cruise tourism facilities. Sharjah has two deep sea ports — Khorfakkan and Khalid – and is the only emirate with direct access to both Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. Sharjah is an attractive destination for cruise tourists with its authentic Arabian cultural and tourism experience. Besides, the emirate provides cruise tourists easy visa processing and world-class amenities and leisure opportunities,” HE Al Midfa added.
Sharjah has developed its Khorfakkan port, a natural deep water port on the Arabian Sea which offers a safe and secure destination for the visitors. The emirate has been attracting major international cruise carriers with its rich diversity of tourism packages. Upon arrival, the tourists are welcomed with special cultural and heritage events, and offered a variety of tourism experiences, including activities such as diving, dune bashing, kayaking and shopping.
The Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum in Qatar will host 11 international cruise line executives during a day-long conference for tourism boards, port authorities, destination management companies, tour operators, travel agents, hoteliers, airlines and ship agents from around the GCC.
The cruise lines attending the Forum include Azamara Club Cruises; Carnival UK; Cruise & Maritime Voyages; Crystal Cruises; Cunard, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises; P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises; Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd; Seabourn Cruise Line, The World; Thomson Cruises and TUI Cruises GmbH.
The forum, hosted by Qatar Tourism Authority, will be held at the Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl, Doha, Qatar, and follows on from previous chapters which have taken place in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai and most recently, Muscat, Oman.