Seatrade to discuss Gulf cruise hub


INTERNATIONALLY tried and tested cruise hub know-how will be in focus at a major industry gathering in Dubai later this year.

The concept will be outlined by Gulf Agency Company (GAC) Dubai, a pioneer of Arabian Gulf cruise agency business, which believes its strategy can successfully attract top cruise lines to the region.
“By establishing a cruise hub concept in the region, we can encourage the growth of the industry among operators within the Gulf, India, Sri Lanka and parts of Asia Pacific, such as Myanmar and Indonesia,” said Shashi Nair, senior manager, Shipping Services, GAC.
The concept will be unveiled at Seatrade Middle East Maritime (SMEM) – the region’s premier event for the maritime industry which features a special cruise conference. Representatives of more than 15 major cruise lines will be at SMEM to probe the major issues impacting the region’s burgeoning cruise sector.
“The conference will be agenda-setting and will touch on key requirements for the regional industry,” said Chris Hayman, managing director, Seatrade – the international maritime publisher and events organiser behind SMEM. “Delegates will hear what the principal drivers are behind growth, what the market potential is, what products are needed to fulfil it, the preferred itinerary and destination options, and what operators are looking for. The decision by two leading cruise lines – Costa and Aida – to position ships in Dubai this December for a series of seven-day cruises is a major boost for cruise tourism in the Gulf and Indian Ocean.”
The SMEM cruise conference runs at the Dubai World Trade Centre on December 5.
“The global cruise business is witnessing average growth of around eight per cent and major cruise lines are now focussing on the Middle East market as a means of maintaining momentum,” said Hayman. “Worldwide, industry revenues are expected to reach $50 billion by 2015. The UAE is central to regional growth with some 80,000 cruise passengers scheduled to pass through the Dubai Cruise Terminal in 2007.”
GAC says cruise shipping has been the fastest growing sector of the travel industry over the past decade and is increasingly becoming a vacation of choice.