Delegates at the Middle East Cruise conference, held January in Dubai, have voiced criticism of the high levies on ships crossing the Egyptian Suez Canal, saying that such high impositions hinder the growth of the cruise tourism industry in the region, reported the Pan-African news agency.
Operators, seeking cruise destinations for the North American winter season, could find the Indian Ocean region an ideal alternative. However excessive levies imposed by the Suez Canal Authority have proven an inhibiting factor, delegates said.
A ship passing through the Suez Canal, from the Mediterranean Sea and to Arabian Gulf, is charged between $100,000 and $200,000, depending on the size of the vessel.
According to the Emirati news agency, WAM, only 1.5 percent of the 656-million tourists, vacationing worldwide in 1999, boarded cruises. Seven million, of the total 9.8 million cruise tourists, came from the United States, while around 1.8 million came from Europe.
In the Arab Gulf region, only 0.6 percent of the total 5.5 million visitors in the year 1999, were cruise tourists. These 32,000 holidaymakers anchored Gulf ports 68 times, with Dubai topping the list.
The Middle East Cruise conference was attended by some 500 delegates from the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, the Far East and Africa. — (Albawaba-MEBG)
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