Tourism chiefs in Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have announced a new partnership to promote cruise tourism in the Gulf region.

The Ministry of Tourism Oman (Oman Tourism), Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) have teamed up in a bid to increase the number of cruise tourists and to raise awareness of the Gulf as a cruise destination.

Dubai is the cruise hub of the region, with infrastructure and services including the largest cruise facility in the Middle East. It is set to be bolstered further by a substantial expansion in the 2013-2014 season.

The emirate has been the home port for the world’s leading cruise lines such as Costa, Aida, Royal Caribbean, TUI and MSC Cruises. Costa, Aida and MSC has confirmed gulf cruise itineraries out of Dubai for 2013/2014 season. The port of Oman and Abu Dhabi are a vital part of these itineraries.

Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai’s DTCM, said: “Following significant investment in infrastructure for cruise tourism across the region, the Middle East is increasingly recognised as a key growth market for the cruise industry and by working closely with our partners from Oman and Abu Dhabi we can contribute to this growth.”

Salim Al Mamari, director general of Tourism Development, Oman Ministry of Tourism, added: “These are truly exciting times for the GCC region’s tourism industry, particularly across the luxury cruise segment, which has demonstrated continuous growth.”

He said the new partnership was “both timely and strategic”.

Sultan Al Dhaheri, director, Tourism Eco-Systems, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority also praised the partnership, saying: “Abu Dhabi has long-term cruise industry ambitions and is working closely with our regional destination partners to progress a GCC-wide approach to fulfill the needs of operators.”

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Photo Credit: Cruise ship docked at Dubai's terminal. Luca Mauri / Flickr