DUBAI – The cruise sector of the shipping industry continues to grow, as the popularity of cruising holidays increases in the Gulf region and expects to handle 400,000 passengers by 2010.
The Middle East as a source market for outbound cruises has seen significant growth in the past decade, and more ships coming in to Dubai offers an opportunity for the trade to touch and feel the product with ship inspection trips, say cruise industry experts.
The sixth Seatrade Middle East Maritime (SMEM) Cruise Conference, the region’s premier maritime forum, which takes place at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre on December14-16, has attracted top-flight delegation of international, regional and local cruise executives.
During the conference delegates will investigate the potential to homeport in the Gulf, interest in cruising as a vacation is expected to benefit too from the focus at SMEM, according to a Press release.
“Agent training programmes at SMEM will also help boost this sector enabling them to understand the many different cruise brands from Costa to Princess or Regent Seven Seas, for instance – and then pass this knowledge on to the customer.”
The Seatrade Middle East Maritime exhibition and conference is held every two years and has evolved into one of the world’s fastest-growing maritime events and now ranks among the industry’s top 10 largest.
In 2006 the event was the biggest, with record attendance of 6,000 trade participants from 63 countries – 45 per cent from outside the region.
In 2008, participation is expected to increase by 30 per cent.
Interest by several other cruise lines too has prompted Dubai to announce a new cruise terminal development based in Port Rashid, as part of the major Nakheel waterfront project there that will be fast-tracked to accommodate the new business at the port. Overall, more than 82 ships are scheduled to visit Dubai in 2009. A figure that should be significantly increased by the 2010 cruise season and its new entrants to the market. The growth in the cruise sector comes about with better port infrastructure around the Gulf with tourist enjoying an opportunity to more land excursions and with the increased hospitality developments.