Arabian Travel Market, the leading travel exhibition in the Middle East, has revealed plans to introduce a dedicated cruise pavilion at the 2011 show (May 2-5), an initiative that has been spurred by the growth in both inbound and outbound cruise sales.
According to Group Exhibition Director, Mark Walsh, the Arabian Gulf is rapidly becoming a hotspot for winter sun cruising. New cruise terminals have launched this year in Dubai, Bahrain and Muscat with additional cruise lines unveiling Gulf itineraries
“The recent announcement by MSC that it will base its MSC Lirica in Dubai and Abu Dhabi next winter is just the latest addition to the fleet of cruise ships sailing the Gulf between November and May,” he said
“In addition to the Gulf cruises offered by Costa Cruises, AIDA, Royal Caribbean and now MSC, smaller lines such as Le Ponant and Silversea are promoting exclusive itineraries in the region, and other visitors will include Cunard’s new Queen Elizabeth, launched this month by HM Queen Elizabeth herself.
The regular cruise traffic around the region is thought to be one reason why more Gulf residents are turning to the sea for their vacation, with Royal Caribbean, for example, reporting an increase of more than 60 per cent in bookings up to July this year
“With lines such as Costa and Holland America appointing representatives in the GCC to tap in to this market, we can expect a great deal of interest in the cruise pavilion at Arabian Travel Market,” added Walsh
For host city Dubai, too, the cruise sector is becoming an important vein of visitor numbers, with more than 350,000 cruise passengers passing through the new terminal annually, a figure set to rise again in 2011.
According to Saleh Mohammed Al Geziry, Director, Overseas Promotions and Inward Mission at the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), one aim for 2011 is to promote the message that Dubai and the Arabian Gulf have both the port facilities and the tourism attractions that go to make an ideal cruise destination.
“The new cruise pavilion will provide a focus for both the travel trade and the public, and, as operator of the Dubai Cruise Terminal, the DTCM is committed to support this initiative and move the industry here farther forward,” he said.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and approaching its 18th year, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world. This year 2,236 exhibitors covering more than 20,000 square metres, attracted in excess of 22,000 visitors.
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