It is hoped that this will shift some of the spotlight away from Dubai, which currently leads in attracting major cruise liners visiting the region. Even though the move is certain to boost tourism in the country, players in the tourism industry are waiting to see how long the transfer will take.
“Although we were hearing about this development for the last couple of years, it is still exciting news, and will catapult the cruise industry into the big league,” said Percy Rana, inbound cruise in charge, Zahara Tours.
He added that the move will lend credibility to Oman's attempts to boost tourism and free infrastructure for catering to the increased tourist inflow. “It will be a lot safer as we can concentrate on our customers and not have to be concerned about the commercial activities that are carried out simultaneously.”
An official at the Ministry of Tourism said the ministry has been a strong advocate of the masterplan, which entailed shifting all the commercial activities to Port of Sohar.
“It is a very important decision for the country, particularly for tourism. The cruise port will give Muscat the capacity to develop an image of international significance and help to lure many more cruise liners,” said the official.
“In comparison to other ports in the region, Muscat port is iconic because of its location and topography, which will fuel tourism growth in the country.”
M C Jose, CEO, projects and logistics, Khimji Ramdas, said that although it is a good decision, he would like to adopt a stance only when things are finalised.
“I have always said that there is huge scope for bringing in newer tourism-related facilities at the port, and having a cruise port is a
The cruise hub will help smoothen the operations of cruise ships and passenger exchanges, according to Sam Kuruvilla, cruise operations in charge at National Travel and Tourism.
“Commercial activity sometimes affects cruise operations, but with a dedicated facility for cruise ships, things are only going to get better for the tourism sector. We had a good season and expect a robust one this winter too.”