While it has barely been two years since the kingdom opened its borders to leisure travellers, Saudi Arabia has already charted huge waves on its journey towards becoming a global luxury tourism player and in particular, a cruise powerhouse.
Despite launching for less than a year since January, Cruise Saudi has already made leaps in its goal of selling cruising in the Middle East using Saudi Arabia as a hub.
The goal is to develop ports, destinations and excursion options to attract more ships to its ports in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, and already, Saudi Arabia has won over major cruise lines, including MSC Cruises, Scenic Cruises and Silversea.
According to Cruise Saudi’s Chief Strategy Officer Ghassan Khan in a Seatrade Cruise News report, the combined ticket sales for these three businesses has hit 20,000 — in just 12.5 months.
Next up, the launch of the Port of Dammam in November, where Khan expects more demand to come from Europe. This comes after the recent opening of Jeddah Islamic Port’s cruise terminal in July 2021.
According to online news reports from Arab News, the plan is for five cruise ports in operation by 2025. Also, there's the upcoming plans for a state-of-the-art cruise terminal in Jeddah, set to begin construction in the next five to seven years.
On the association membership front, Cruise Saudi officially joined Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) at Seatrade Cruise Global 2021 earlier in April, and is most recently also a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
With all these moves, Saudi Arabia is cruising straight towards its plan of anchoring the destination as a new pillar for the global cruise industry — and for one million cruise ship passengers to visit Saudi Arabia by 2028.