Dubai, UAE – Emirates Holidays plans to launch a cruise unit in a year, according to a senior executive.
“We will eventually create a cruise unit maybe towards the end of the current financial year or early next financial year. While eventually we will launch the cruise unit, we are not in a hurry,” said Frederic M. Bardin, senior vice-president of Emirates Holidays.
He added that the cruise market globally is estimated to be growing at “about 20 per cent” at present despite the economic downturn that the tourism industry has faced.
“I believe in cruises as a major development. In the tourism industry in general, it is the fastest growing segment at present,” he said.
With the intention of capitalising on the growing cruise market, Bardin said: “Cruise is a very particular segment of the market. You have got plenty of cruise companies and each company has got plenty of cruise ships. Most cruise companies actually have different classes of ships.”
Further explaining how the unit would work within the Emirates Holidays business, he said that the company would make contracts with different cruise operators “just like we do with the hotels for Emirates Holidays”.
“So with cruise operators we will buy their cabins and sell them back,” Bardin said.
He added: “Our job would be to sell cruises and to advise people on which cruise to take depending on their profile and what they want to do with their holiday. And we will need to have specialists in cruise as a part of the unit.”
When asked where the UAE and the Middle East would fit into the company’s cruise venture considering the cruise segment is in its nascent stages in the region, Bardin said that the UAE would be a rather small market for the business.
UK, US the biggest markets
“We would be selling cruises to the people across the globe,” he said, adding that the UK and the US are the world’s biggest markets for cruise tourism.
Meanwhile, the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing said yesterday that it expects some 103 ships carrying more than 390,000 passengers to dock in Dubai in 2011.