Adam Goldstein, President & CEO of Royal Caribbean International – the guest of honour – gave the awards in recognition of the nominees’ outstanding contribution to generating cruise sales during 2008.
Travel industry partners receiving awards in the ‘2008 Best Sales Performance’ category were: Al Kaatib Travel Agency – Bahrain; Travco Travel – Egypt; Hashweh Corporation – Jordan; Discovery Travel & Tourism – Kuwait; Kurban Travel – Lebanon; Bahwan Travel Agencies LLC – Oman; Qatar Tours – Qatar; Al Faisaliah Travel – KSA; Al Rais Travel – UAE.
In addition, Transworld Travel received the ‘2008 Best Regional Sales Performance’ award, while Safwan Mahmoud was honoured in the ‘2008 Achievement Award’ category.
Fawaz Al-Gosaibi, Owner & Director of Safeen Tourism, the international representative of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. in the Middle East, who opened the proceedings said, ‘A vital component in ensuring the regional cruise industry’s long-term growth is honouring parties whose contributions are laying the foundations of its future success.’
‘With the help of our partners we achieved 30% regional growth in cruise passengers compared to 2007. Our key markets of Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have performed well once again and it is very encouraging that some of our emerging markets, such as Oman and Qatar, saw triple digit growth compared to the previous year,’ Al-Gosaibi added.
Goldstein, who is making his inaugural visit to the UAE, was upbeat about the state of the cruise industry, ‘Trading in today’s world is very challenging compared to the conditions twelve months ago. Although the cruise industry is not recession proof, it is better placed than many other travel sectors to weather the economic storm.’
The Royal Caribbean International chief claimed there was, ‘100% chance the cruise industry’s trend of global expansion will continue,’ and while admitting that this development was not made any easier by current conditions, he added, ‘It isn’t going to be stopped by them.’
In 2010 Royal Caribbean International will solidify its Middle East operations with the deployment of Brilliance of the Seas, a 2,501 capacity vessel offering seven-night cruises to five major Arabian Gulf destinations. Running from January to April 2010, the programme incorporates Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Oman and Bahrain.
And Goldstein took the opportunity to announce that Brilliance of the Seas will be deployed in Dubai for her second consecutive season in 2011, and bookings for the programme were open from today.
‘With Brilliance of the Seas we are bringing one of the biggest ships ever to the Middle East in terms of passenger capacity, which will incorporate Arabian themed dining and entertainment. We are extremely happy to announce that Brilliance of the Seas will return in 2011, which clearly underlines our commitment to this market,’ said Goldstein, who also unveiled the company’s shore excursions and cruise tour programmes.
Helen Beck, Regional Sales Director, International Representatives, EMEA for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. added, ‘2010 marks a milestone year for Royal Caribbean International as we see not only the Middle East’s first sailing of Brilliance of the Seas, already a popular vessel with regional customers, but also the launch of Allure of the Seas, a sister ship of Oasis of the Seas.’
Oasis of the Seas, the largest and most revolutionary cruise ship, will begin her inaugural season with 19 consecutive seven-night sailings to the Eastern Caribbean. Starting in 2010, the ship will then alternate its Eastern with the Western Caribbean itinerary.