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New push targets cruise passengers.

TOURISTS coming into Bahrain in cruise ships will be given a glimpse of the country's historic desert during treks that will include a pit stop at the famous Tree of Life.

They could also be taken for a drag race around Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) as officials are expecting 33 liners to dock at Khalifa bin Salman Port (KBSP) starting this November for the new cruise season.

Those who are willing to brave the winter cold and experience Bahrain's landscape will be taken to Jaw in luxury buses and will then set out on a 10km trek across the desert with experienced guides until they reach the Sailing Club in Zallaq.

"The tourists will begin the trek first thing after they disembark at the KBSP and have a glimpse of Bahrain's desert as they walk along," said tour organiser Mathias Tourism managing director Richard Mathias.

"Along the way, they will see the Tree of Life and other attractions, including oil wells and other installations.

"There will be a small refreshment break at the Tree of Life after which they will walk again until the Sailing Club."

The journey would take up to three hours, during which tour guides would also explain the historical importance and background of the Bahraini desert.

"The predominantly German tourists have been extremely enthusiastic about such treks taking place and we plan to give them an experience of a lifetime," added Mr Mathias.

He also revealed plans were in the pipeline to take groups of tourists for a drag racing experience at the BIC.

"Modalities for this are still being worked out but we hope these can be completed well before the cruise season begins in October," he explained.

The initiative comes in line with efforts by the authorities to lure back operators and tourists for the new season.

Mr Mathias said selective groups were earlier taken on the trek, but would now be extended to cover all cruise tourists.

"We have the experience and guidance of experienced Bahrain Road Runner chairman and local adventurer Adnan Al Qassab to help us and he will accompany the tour groups."

Bahrain has already agreed to halve port fees for cruise ships to offset increased insurance charges for docking in Bahrain in the wake of the unrest, which meant that each cruise operator will have to pay an additional $300,000 (BD113,129) over the course of a season.

Other incentives were also agreed to ensure a successful season including discounts worth tens of thousands of dinars by tourism companies, while passenger charges could be waived by the General Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs (GDNPR), which could act as a "sponsor" for each visitor arriving on a cruise.


The organisation will also continue to waive crew charges and will look into the potential of waiving other charges.

In addition, shipping or port agents who handle cruise liners coming to Bahrain have pledged to slash their prices of up to BD700 by 25pc.

The GDN had reported that at least 33 stops by cruise ships had been confirmed at the KBSP, including Aida and TUI, both leading German cruise line operators, which will dock every Wednesday and Friday until April.

Talks were also underway with other operators and Bahrain could host up to 60 port calls by cruise liners during the coming season.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Aug 26, 2012
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