Costa makes Dubai its regional hub with 2 ships this year

For the second consecutive year, Europe’s leading cruise operator, Costa Cruises, has made Dubai its regional cruise hub and deployed two ships offering a total of six weekly packages to destinations in the UAE, Arabian Gulf and the Middle East regions.

For the 2007-2008 cruise season, the Italian group has drafted two huge cruise ships – Costa Romantica and Costa Europa- with a combined passenger and crew capacity of 4756. Last year, the company had deployed only one cruise ship.

Mr. Khalid A bin Sulayem, Director General of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) which operates the state-of-the-art Dubai Cruise Terminal, said Costa’s decision was highly encouraging for the regional cruise industry and will also stimulate other cruise operators to utilize Dubai as the regional hub.

The aggressive promotional and marketing agenda being pursued by the department has resulted in significant increase in the number of cruise ships docking in Dubai and the movement was also benefiting other regional destinations, he said. In the near future, the cruise tourism industry in the emirate will witness major growth with more cruise operators coming to Dubai, he added.

Mr. Awadh Seghayer Al Ketbi, Executive Director Dubai Cruise Terminal, said there has been substantial increase in the number cruise tourists coming to Dubai due to the hard work done by the department over the past seven years. For the 2007-2008 season, the number of cruise tourists is expected to be around 165,000. It will touch the 200,000 mark in 2008-2009 season followed by 350,000 passengers in the 2009-2010 period.

Costa Romantica docked in Dubai on December 21 and will offer weekly regional trips until the end of March 2008. Similarly, Costa Europa kicked off the regional tours on December 22 and will continue until February 25, 2008. Each ship offers cruise packages, using Dubai as the hub.

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