Bahrain's tourism sector is set to miss out on tens of thousands of dinars after one of the world's largest luxury cruise liners cancelled stops here today and next Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for cruise ship company Aida confirmed the cruise liner Aida Blu would not be calling at Khalifa bin Salman Port this week and next week. The GDN exclusively reported yesterday that the visits had been cancelled temporarily due to security concerns.
Speaking from Rostock, Germany, the company spokeswoman said the decision had been taken to stay away for two weeks "considering the security situation in the country". "We will be operating as usual for the rest of the cruise season," she added yesterday. "The decision is only for two calls at the moment. "We see no reason why we should not return."
Sources said the decision to skip Bahrain was taken based on consultation with security experts and the German Embassy in Bahrain. Violent street confrontations combined with the first anniversary of anti-government protests which started last February were cited as the key reasons.
Seatrade Middle East officials earlier said every vessel that berthed in Bahrain could be worth around $300,000 (BD113,400) to the economy, with an estimated spend of $274,165 per call. More than 20,000 tourists have visited Bahrain since the cruise tourism season started in mid-December.
It normally runs until March and the Aida Blu brings nearly 2,500 passengers and 650 crewmembers to Bahrain every Wednesday. The cruise liner was scheduled to dock here every week for 14 weeks and is due to make four more visits after February 15. Up to 70 cruise ships have docked in Bahrain every season before the country was hit by unrest last year. Only 29 took place between November 2010 and February last year after anti-government protests erupted. Costa Cruises, which had scheduled 30 visits, skipped Bahrain altogether this year and opted for Khasab, in Oman, instead.