Bahrain sees record cruise tourists
Manama, January 19, 2013
Nearly 40,000 people have visited Bahrain since the start of the cruise tourism season, ploughing around BD2.2 million ($5.8 million) into the economy, said top tourism officials.
The cruise tourism season runs from November to March and its success has provided a welcome boost.
Twenty vessels, carrying mostly German passengers, have already docked at the Khalifa Bin Salman Port and another 16 are due before the end of the season in March, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, citing officials.
Around 2,000 passengers are brought to Bahrain on each visit and are given tours of the country's historical sites, including the Bahrain Fort, Manama Suq, Beit Al Quran, the Bahrain International Circuit, Arad Fort and Bahrain National Museum.
Hikes across the desert taking in the Tree of Life have also proved popular, according to ground tour organiser Mathias Tourism managing director Richard Mathias.
"They have also been cycling around the country and have taken part in desert crossings, getting a true taste of Bahrain's hospitality," he said.
"The season has been a great success so far.
"The tourists have gone away happy to have been in Bahrain and many of them have pledged to come back on regular tours later."
Mathias said the Mein Schiff 2 would make 20 calls to Bahrain, the Aida Blu 13 and the MS Astor, Fred Olsen Cruises and Clipper Odyssey one each.
It was earlier feared the cruise industry could be crippled by increasing costs of insuring vessels that dock in Bahrain due to the unrest.
However, a raft of incentives were introduced to offset the higher insurance premiums facing operators.
Bahrain's cruise industry, which once boasted 50 visits by major cruise liners, has been hit hard by political turmoil since February 2011.
Only 29 of the scheduled 50 port calls by various liners were made to Bahrain in the 2010-2011 season, which was abruptly suspended because of protests - resulting in a loss of nearly 50,000 tourists.
Every vessel that berths in Bahrain is estimated to be worth around $300,000 to the economy.-Reuters