As a Tourism Consultant, and the former Minister responsible for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, I have always promoted Seychelles as a cruise ship destination and defended cruise ship business. I continue to do so today.
Seychelles as a country that is totally dependent on tourism, the industry that has become the pillar of its economy, needs to now move to better understand Cruise Ship Business, and appreciate the importance of cruise ship tourism. Today it is more important for Seychelles to embrace cruise ship business and to get ready for increased cruise ship numbers. In December the high number of cruise ships arriving in Port Victoria caused a disruption to cargo vessels needing to disembark important end of year cargo for the islands. This saw a backlash against the Management of Port Victoria and against cruise ship business.
Apart of the direct benefits for the islands through official charges such as Port Fees, Water and fuel charges, Ship Chandling business, and the local DMCs excursions sales, the 50+% of cruise ship passengers who do not pre-book shore excursions walk the islands, take taxis, buy handicrafts that are Made in Seychelles, and eat in restaurants. On just the tourism marketing angle, an important benefit for the island when a cruise ship is sitting in Port Victoria is the ability for Seychelles to sell itself to the thousands of visitors. The passengers are very much like visitors to a tourism trade fair and Seychelles only needs to show off its better side for these passengers to recommend the islands to their family and friends or return themselves as free independent travelers (FITs) for a future holiday. Tourism Destinations spend a fortune at tourism trade fairs to get the undivided attention of so many potential holiday makers. In port these visitors are admiring the country as Tourism Board Staff provide needed publicity material to them.
Seychelles needs its Cruise Ship Port and as it waits for that, the proposed docking at right angle with the port facing Victoria’s Yacht Club basin should be put to the table as it would not impact with cargo ships when a cruise ship is docked at Port Victoria.
Dubai-owned port operator DP World welcomed five giant international cruise liners carrying over 23,000 tourists at its Hamdan Bin Mohamed Cruise Terminal 3, thus announcing the start of a cruise tourist season with the entry of vessels Aida Prima (with 6700 visitors), MSC Splendida (7,918), MscLirica (3,860), Costa Mediterranea (5,550) and Horizon with 3700 visitors.
Hamdan Bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal is the biggest cruise terminal in the world in term of size and handling capacity and has received more than 2.3 million tourists since its inauguration in 2014 and up to till end of 2018.
The terminal recorded a milestone with 172 percent increase in cruise tourists’ numbers from 2014 with a 232.6 thousand visitors to 2018 with 632.7 thousand visitors, in addition of recorded significant growth of vessels calls from 94 calls in 2014 to 120 calls in 2018.
In 2015, it had received around 270.9 thousand visitors, 564.2 visitors in 2016, and 602.4 visitors in 2017.
DP World said it will continue provide the support through the development of infrastructure, Terminals, and berthing with a length of 1900 m can accommodate up to 7 mega ship at a time carrying more than 18,000 passengers.
This number of cruise visitors arriving in one day can be smoothly handled with the 70 thousand square meter of car parking can take up to 36 big buses, 150 taxis, and sufficient number of private cars.
Mina Rashid Cruise Terminals recorded for 10 consecutive years as a Middle East Leading Cruise Port by the World Travel award.
Mohamed Abdulaziz Al Mannaei, the executive director at Mina Rashid and CEO of P&O Marinas, said: “DP World is keen to develop Cruise Terminal Facilities to the world highest standards and actively contribute to attract more of international cruise lines to Dubai to support vital role of the tourism sector in promoting economic growth.”
“As continues development in Hamdan Bin Mohamed Cruise Terminal meets the requirements of major international cruise ships, to promote the location of Dubai as a central hub on the map of cruise tourism regionally and globally,” he stated.
Dubai’s vision is to welcome a million Cruise Tourists by 2020, as confirmed by 10 international companies to keep Dubai as their main destination for the winter season 2020-2021, which will support to arrange 10 international cruises starting from Dubai, said the senior official.
A variety of sizes of cruise ships between medium, luxury and Mega to meet the various budgets and geographical areas and explained that the tourist visa which allows them to enter the country multiple times has been an important factor in efforts to attract the Cruise tourists from around the world, he added.
Hamad Bin Mejren, the senior VP (Stakeholders) Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said: “Dubai is fast becoming a favoured destination amongst international cruise lines and cruise tourists, and we are dedicated to showcasing the robust growth of the city as an established cruise hub for the wider region.”
“We are delighted with the arrival of five more cruise ships in a single day during this season, further cementing Dubai’s position as a prime gateway to a cruising holiday. Moreover, this season and every weekend starting in December 2018 through March 2019 we will have 4 ships in-port,” noted Bin Mejren.
“Indeed, this latest success can be attributed to the continued contribution being made by our valued network of industry partners and various public and private sector stakeholders and is a reflection of our commitment to work within a collaborative framework to boost the growth of the emirate’s cruise industry and tourism sector at large,” he added.