Muscat: Marella Discovery arrived at Sultan Qaboos Port for the third time in the winter tourism season to carry out a passenger transfer operation for the 2019/2020 season.
This is part of the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism to strengthen the cruise ship sector in cooperation with various concerned authorities.
Abdulla bin Saif Al Sadi, head of the ships and cruises department in the Ministry of Tourism, said, “The return of Marella Discovery to the Sultanate for the third time is a milestone.”
It is a huge support to the plans of the ministry to improve this sector and transform all ports of the Sultanate which is receiving the tourists through cruise ships into platforms for their regional tours. During two consecutive days, 700 tourists who have contracted with the Marella Cruise International company will arrive at Muscat airport from Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham airports of the UK.
This exchange of passengers will be repeated next year in April 2020. This is one of the most important achievements made by the ministry’s cruise ships department during the last season.
This will be the first such cooperation and arrangement with Marella Cruise for exchange of passengers at Muscat Airport and escorting them to the ship which will be waiting for them at the port and vice versa. In this operation 1,800 passengers would be covered. It would bring a lot of economic benefits to the Sultanate.
The Ministry of Tourism plays a major role in developing this type of international tourism in coordination with the government, private sectors and international companies owning and operating these cruise ships.
It makes the ports of the Sultanate an attractive and major stopover for the giant cruise ships. For this purpose, all possibilities are being harnessed and all necessary facilities are being provided.
The process of obtaining licences has been made flexible and easy. The cruise ship market is important for the growth of tourism activity. It will help in increasing the economic returns and income as well as diversify its sources.
“The Ministry of Tourism is working to attract giant cruise ships to visit the ports of the Sultanate as part of its efforts to promote the tourism potential of the country. These ships are important for the winter tourist season. The ministry participates in the international events and exhibitions related to cruise ships to meet the decision makers from cruise companies to discuss their current and future plans for the region and the Sultanate”, said Al-Sadi.
He thanked the Royal Oman Police, Marafi company, Oman Airports, Omani Handling Company, Oman Air, Travco and Khimji company for the successful exchange. The Ministry of Tourism is trying to make Oman a transfer, exchange and meeting point for passengers of cruise ships in future. Cruise ships are considered one of the tourism services for which countries try to become stopovers. Therefore, they talk to many big tourists shipping companies of the world. This is because such cruise ships provide opportunities for the passengers to explore tourist elements. They plan to visit again with their families and friends. This enriches the market which provides such types of tourism.
The Ministry of Tourism, in cooperation with the Royal Oman Police, Marafi company, Oman Airports Company, Oman Air, Ground Handling and Oman Air, SATS, worked to make this experience of exchange of passengers for Marella Discovery through Muscat Airport and Sultan Qaboos Tourism Port a success.
For this the passengers of the cruise ships were provided all facilities at the airport and the port. There was also cooperation with Travco Oman, the tourist agent of the ship, and the Khimji Company, the navigation agent of the ship for logistics services.
The operation of such services, in cooperation between Sultan Qaboos Port and Muscat International Airport, will provide Omani tourism companies, the entire sector and other related sectors such as navigation, transport and hospitality an opportunity to benefit.
They can make tourism programmes and packages specially for them. This will also encourage international cruise companies to embark on the same path and choose Oman as a platform to launch such tours.
The Ministry of Tourism has agreed with Marella Cruise International that the Sultanate would be a destination for arriving and departing tourists during the coming seasons. As part of the agreement, the giant cruise ship Marella Discovery will conduct its tours with 27 visits to the ports of the Sultanate during the tourist season 2020/2021. This will including 16 visits to Sultan Qaboos Tourism Port, eight to Khasab Port and three visits to Salalah Port. The Ministry has also worked to make the Marella Discovery part of its programmes to carry out a passenger exchange for the fifth time in Muscat during November 2020 and April 2021. There will be two visits to Khasab Port, three to the port of Salalah and a number of visits to the Sultan Qaboos Tourism Port.
The Ministry wants to make the ports of the Sultanate of Oman platforms for launching tours of international cruise ships. It is also developing the cruise ship sector gradually and trying to utilise the facilities of Muscat International Airport and services provided by the local tourism companies to this end. It also intends to invest in the facilities of Sultan Qaboos Port after completing these stages of tourism development.
Cast Kamilk from the United Kingdom said, “I visited the Sultanate for the first time and enjoyed the beauty of traditional markets and its heritage at lot. I was thrilled by the treatment given by the Omani people and the way they greeted us with smile.” Another tourist from Scotlond, on their second visit to the Sultanate, said, “I admired its beauty. It has a lovely environment, traditional markets, high mountains, deserts and forts which tell its tale of glory.” Siusi Sparrow, from London, said that she visited the Sultanate for the third time and enjoyed the tourist attractions of the country. She expressed her wish to visit the Sultanate every year. She said that this was the best tourist place to relax, spend time full of entertainment and joy.