Ministry of Tourism plans to extend cruise tourism to ports in Sohar, Sur, Duqm and Suwaiq

September 04, 2018

The sultanate will start to witness mega cruises lining its shores from October, kickstarting the lucrative cruise tourism season for the country. 

To attract more cruise liners and increase business for the local tourism industry, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) plans to extend cruise tourism to other ports, in Sohar, Sur, Duqm and Suwaiq.

Currently, ports in Muscat, Khasab and Salalah are the three points where all the cruise tourism takes place. The number of visitors to Port Sultan Qaboos, Port of Salalah and Khasab Port by the end of 2017 reached around 221,800, compared to 217,100 visitors in 2016, a growth rate of 2.2 per cent. According to MoT, around 110,800 cruise tourists have visited in 2018.

The ministry said it plays a major role in the development of cruise tourism sector as well as to promote the sultanate as a destination for cruise ships.

“In addition, there is a plan to work on the development of some ports to receive cruise ships namely, Sohar port, Port of Sur, Duqm port and Suwaiq port,” it said.

Salem al Ma’amari, director general of Tourism Promotion, MoT, said that the tourism sector in Oman has witnessed a remarkable development in recent years and is considered one of the fastest growing sectors.

“In 2015-16, the number of cruises visiting Oman reached 230 and in 2016-17 it went up to 252. During the 2018-19 season, it is expected to reach a high of 260,” he said.

He added that the sector's growth is promising, especially with the plan to rope in more Omani ports.

Marhoon bin Said al Amri, director general of tourism in Dhofar, said that a large numbers of mega cruise ships flock to Dhofar annually, with thousands of European tourists on board. He added that around 35-45 vessels dock at Salalah each year, with each ship bringing along 1,500 tourists on an average.

He said that local businesses get a boost as tourism companies provide buses, in addition to providing tour guides for visits to popular tourist spots.