Cruise ships windfall for Bahrain
Manama, March 22, 2013
Tourists visiting Bahrain on cruise ships have ploughed nearly BD4.2 million ($11 million) into the economy, a report said.
The season officially comes to a close today as a luxury German liner makes its last call to the Khalifa Bin Salman Port, added the report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
The season saw a total of around 50,000 cruise tourists land in Bahrain on board 37 luxury vessels.
The Mein Schiff 2, which is on its 20th and final call to Bahrain, will now not return to the Gulf until the 2014-15 season after opting to cruise around the Mediterranean.
"This has been a very fruitful season," said Culture Ministry head of tourism marketing Isa Hassani. "The tourists have gone away extremely happy and many have promised to return later."
Hassani said immigration and Customs officials, tour operators and ground handling agents as well as port operators APM Terminals had done a tremendous job.
"We are looking forward to the next season that begins in November, when we expect to have many more vessels coming to Bahrain," he said.
Each vessel that berths in Bahrain is estimated to be worth around $300,000 to the economy.
During the season, well-known cruise liner the AIDA BLU V made 13 calls to the Khalifa Bin Salman Port, while the Black Watch made a single call, bringing in close to 1,000 passengers and crew.
The success of the season comes after fears Bahrain's cruise industry could be crippled by increasing costs of insuring vessels that dock here due to unrest.
Each cruise operator was facing an additional $300,000 bill over the course of a season, but a raft of incentives were introduced to offset the higher insurance premiums.
This included halving port fees, discounts from tourism companies worth tens of thousands of dinars and a reduction in passenger charges at APM Terminals.
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. – TradeArabia News Service