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Published on : Friday, December 9, 2016
Dubai aims to attract more Chinese cruise tourists with more ships and visitors than ever before this year, but there are also concerns about the growth of this industry. The cruise season has started in Dubai and the city is expecting 600,000 passengers to land on its shores from October this year to July next year, which is a 7% increase from 2015. Cruise numbers are rising steadily in recent times and hence, major focus for tourism officials here are on emerging markets like India and China.
Jamal Humaid Al Falast, Director of Dubai Cruise Tourism said, “Two years in a row now we’ve done a road show in China, so we get really good numbers of Chinese. Now, since they are travelling to Europe or to the [United] States to take cruise lines, why not come to Dubai using a cruise line? The same brand, the same quality.” In the first 9 months of 2016, almost 385,000 Chinese tourists visited Dubai – a 13% rise year on year.
It’s currently the 7th largest source market and Chinese nationals were granted visas on arrival in the UAE in September. The UNWTO also said that Chinese tourists are the biggest spenders while on holiday.
To quote Al Falast, “Chinese tourists, really they spend a lot shopping in other markets and they see Dubai as something of a good brand, to buy or to find the good quality or good brands here in Dubai.” Although Dubai is promoting itself as a winter destination, experts are of the opinion that the very nature of cruises – with passengers getting on and off at multiple locations, means its success may depend on others. Although Dubai as a hub is doing great, still it needs to be supported by other ports around.
The Gulf region still has a long way to go before it can match up rivals like the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. However, the tourism officials here are seeing cruises as part of wider tourism strategy and will diversify the economy away from oil. So Dubai is investing heavily in international visitors – whether it’s by air, land or sea.