The first cruise ship terminal at Jeddah Islamic Port is now open. The opening comes two days before the launch of the first cruise from Saudi Arabia for “Bellisima” giant ship towards local and regional destinations, where the giant ship will depart from Jeddah Islamic Port to stations in Jordan and Egypt, reported Saudi Gazette.
Managing Director of Cruise Saudi Arabia Fawaz Farooqi said: “The inauguration of the first cruise ship station represents an important step that contributes to the promotion and development of tourism trips on the Red Sea coast, and supports the growth of the tourism sector in the Kingdom.”
“We’re targeting creating 50,000 job opportunities by 2025, increasing cruise ships, inaugurating additional ports beside Jeddah Islamic Port, and reaching 1.5 million visitors annually by 2028,” Farooqi said.
For his part, the General Authority of Ports President Omar Hariri considered choosing Jeddah Islamic Port to be the first gateway where cruise ships will dock and leave in the Kingdom for its pivotal strategic location.
“We worked with our partners to develop infrastructure, marine, and logistical services in Jeddah Islamic Port, by inaugurating a passenger terminal for cruise ships after developing it to accommodate more than 2,500 passengers,” Hariri said.
The MSC Bellissima will offer 21 Red Sea voyages in total, comprising three- and four-night cruises to Safaga for Luxor, Egypt or Aqaba for Petra, Jordan, while homeporting in Jeddah. According to the line, the Meraviglia-class ship will be the largest cruise vessel ever to sail the waters of the Red Sea. MSC Cruises previously unveiled its winter 2021/22 Red Sea program with a fly-cruise option back in April. Shortly before that, the line revealed its partnership agreement with Cruise Saudi.
Saudi Arabia officially reopened its borders to international tourists on August 1. The kingdom now welcomes all tourism visa holders who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to enter the country without the need to quarantine.
The announcement comes almost eighteen months after international tourism into Saudi Arabia was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The kingdom launched its tourism e-visa program in September 2019. Travelers arriving in the kingdom will also be required to provide a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure and an approved paper vaccination certificate, certified by the official health authorities in the issuing country, said senior officials.
“Saudi is looking forward to reopening its doors and its hearts to international visitors,” said Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA).
“During the shutdown we have working in close collaboration with our partners in the public and private sector to ensure that visitors to Saudi can enjoy a memorable, authentic and, above all, safe experience for themselves and their loved ones. Visitors seeking unexplored heritage sites, an authentic cultural experience and breath-taking natural beauty will be surprised and delighted to discover Saudi’s warm welcome,” he stated.
According to him, the Saudi Tourism Authority has been preparing for the reopening, building its international network and raising awareness of the brand. With representative offices already in place in the UK, German and Russia / CIS markets, STA plans to have a further 12 overseas offices within the next twelve months.
The Authority has also built an international network of more than 3,000 tour operators, travel agents and other partners through virtual roadshows, training programs and direct outreach.