Costa Cruises skips Bahrain on tour
Manama, September 7, 2011
Costa Cruises, which had scheduled 30 visits to Bahrain between November last year and April, decided not to include the country on its latest regional tour, said the top official of a leading tourism firm.
The company has instead opted for Khasab in Oman, added Mathais Tourism managing director Richard Mathias, whose company promotes Bahrain to the cruise industry worldwide.
'However, another cruise company, AIDA, is expected to make 14 calls here,' he said.
Only 29 of the 50 scheduled port calls to Manama took place last season after it was called off following the unrest and all major cruise liners opted to skip the country.
'We had hoped we would have a full season ahead of us, but that is not happening now,' said Mathias.
'Only 29 of the scheduled 50 port calls by various liners took place last time, and that severely affected the tourism industry.'
He said based on the improvement in Bahrain's situation, industry chiefs had been hopeful of a full blown season.
'We have been given to understand Costa had scheduled its calendar well in advance and it was not possible to accommodate Bahrain,' said Mathias.
He revealed AIDA was also expected to make a final decision about whether it would include visits to Bahrain in the coming days after consulting local agents.
Nearly 50,000 cruise tourists were lost last season as the unrest led to cruise liners not calling at the Khalifa bin Salman Port.
None of the large cruise liners that were due to make at least three calls a week docked following the outbreak of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in mid-February.
Tour operators said the cancellations meant losses of at least $5 million in tourist spending alone.
Mathias earlier said estimates were that each tourist on a cruise ship spent at least $125 in Bahrain.
He said his company had been forced to dispense with the services of at least 50 bus drivers as well as 30 guides as a result of the unrest.
Taxi drivers and others who benefit from the cruise tourism season, which runs between November and April, had also been affected.
Our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News reported last year that Bahrain could be set for a $21 million windfall as a result of the country's booming cruise ship industry.
Every vessel that berths in Bahrain could be worth around $300,000 to the economy, said Seatrade Middle East at the start of the cruise season. It said the cruise industry in Bahrain was only just taking off in a big way and was likely to do very well in the future. – TradeArabia News Service