Dubai has ambitions to become the Middle East hub for the international cruising industry and is banking on the steady increase in the number of cruise ships visiting the emirate year on year to bring in 575,000 cruise tourists to its shores by 2015.
In 2010, the new cruise terminal of Port Rashid welcomed 100 cruise ships and hundreds of thousands of tourists.
The growth in this sector is reflected in a rise of 6% between 2009 and 2010 in hotel revenues. Soaring tourist figures have inspired hotels and hotel apartments in Dubai to build more.
A total of 52 five-star hotels are putting up more branches within the emirate, which are scheduled to open this year.
Latest figures released by Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) show an approximately six million hotel guests, reflecting an increase of six percent over 2009.
The Port Rashid terminal spans 3,450 square metres and is designed to handle four ships simultaneously and cater to the increased number of ship calls. Currently, the terminal is used by Costa Cruises, Aida Cruises and Royal Caribbean.
The facade of the new terminal reflects contemporary Arabic design. Traditional domes, arches and carvings are the major architectural elements of the exterior facade.
The main purpose is to reflect Dubai's rich heritage as a maritime centre, present a strong image of Emirati hospitality, and to express the importance of Dubai as an international tourist destination, the DTCM said.
The terminal provides a support infrastructure, which includes facilities like currency exchange, ATMs, a post office, duty free shop, souvenir shops and a business centre with Wi-Fi and cable internet access as well as a VIP section.
The DTCM has set up information counters in the cruise terminal which are manned round the clock. Passengers are provided with free maps and other information about Dubai.
In addition, the terminal houses offices for representatives of government bodies such as immigration, customs and police.
The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing says it will increase its efforts to boost the sector, including implementing initiatives in 2011 such as the Dubai Green Tourism Awards, Kids Go Free campaign, Definitely Dubai campaign, and many exhibitions and conventions.
More at www.dubaitourism.ae