DUBAI- Cruise Arabia, the collective formed by Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority and Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing to promote the Arabian Gulf as a cruise destination, today(May 11th) announced that its official regional debut at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai last week (5-8 May, Dubai World Trade Centre, UAE) had been an unqualified success.
Formed in September 2013 with a shared aim to grow and evolve the cruise tourism segment and launched to the global travel trade at Cruise Shipping Miami in March 2014, this year’s ATM – the Middle East’s biggest and most important travel trade gathering – provided the first major regional opportunity for Cruise Arabia representatives to meet and interact with individuals and agencies from across the Middle East’s tourism sector. Over the course of the week, Cruise Arabia partners met with dozens of travel trade professionals, cruise industry insiders and media to an overwhelmingly positive reception from all parties.
The Cruise Arabia partners showcased the diversity of the destination offering of the region – including its city skylines, desert landscapes and beaches; the world’s most sophisticated malls and traditional souks; natural wilderness and adventure experiences; its art, culture and heritage; and world-leading hotels and a burgeoning gastronomy scene – all underpinned by an exceptional welcome and hospitality in the region that stems from traditional Bedouin culture.
Cruise Arabia has committed to making a significant investment to the cruise industry across the region, developing its segment infrastructure and creating current and future employment opportunities. A key aim of the partnership is to encourage a new generation of tourists to cruise in the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, spanning new travellers from traditional cruise markets in Europe and North America as well as those from emerging markets including China, India and the GCC.
With a focus on emerging markets, Cruise Arabia is working to raise awareness of the cruise tourism offering with audiences who may not be familiar with the experience, including the family-friendly aspects of cruising; the affordability of cruise travel; the breadth of on-board amenities and choice of leisure and entertainment activities; as well as the opportunity to explore four or five destinations within a week’s itinerary at a relaxed and leisurely pace.
Hamad Mohammed bin Mejren, Executive Director, Business Tourism at DTCM, said: “We are glad that we participated in Arabian Travel Market this year, and had an opportunity to highlight the fact that Dubai, Oman and Abu Dhabi together boast an excellent and evolving tourism and hospitality infrastructure with the opportunity to explore the many sights, rich culture, and romantic history of the Arabian Gulf.By communicating our shared strengths and the diverse tourism experiences in each of our three destinations as a single united force, we can become more than the sum of our parts.
Since launching to the global cruise sector and travel trade professionals last year, we have received a hugely positive response from the industry and by coming together at ATM under a single banner it validated our collective commitment to growing the cruise sector across the Arabian Gulf.
“We also see significant opportunities to develop cruise tourism as a holiday of choice in emerging markets including among GCC travellers – something that was a topic of much discussion with the cruise industry at ATM. Cruising is a perfect choice for families travelling together – with most cruise companies offering fantastic deals that include food, accommodation and free travel for children under the age of eight, with prices starting at just US$450. It also enables tourists to visit as many as four or five different destinations within a week, and we see huge potential for growth at a local and regional level.”
The year has got off to a strong start for Cruise Arabia. After the successful global industry debut at Cruise Miami in March, later in the month Royal Caribbean International announced its return to the Arabian Gulf for the 2015-2016 cruise season with Splendour of the Seas. With her home port in Dubai, the region’s leading destination for cruise tourism, she will also be sailing to Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Khasab, something that Mejren says: “Is testament to the strength of our partnership and our combined destination offering, which acted as a tangible incentive for Royal Caribbean’s return.”
The Splendour of the Seas will add more than 32,000 tourists to Dubai’s cruise traveller numbers in the 2015-16 season, contributing to DTCM aims to attract 450,000 annual cruise visitors in 2016 as part of the Dubai Tourism Vision target of 20 million annual visitors by the end of the decade, and its aim to become the world’s most visited city.
Khalid Al Zadjali, Director of Tourism Events, Oman Ministry of Tourism, said: “Oman has emerged as one of the most promising cruise destinations in the Middle East. Muscat Port has handled over 170,000 tourists in the past while Khasab has been included as a major tourist spot on the Arabian Gulf tour. To further boost the growing cruise tourism in the region, Oman has joined hands with Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing & Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority to offer Cruise Arabia, which will enable tourists to explore the rich, ancient culture of the region while enjoying the winter sun on clear, serene beaches. Oman, along with Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing & Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, had a very successful first presence at the Arabian Travel Market 2014 promoting the Arabian Gulf and Cruise Arabia to the global travel vendors and cruise services providers.”
Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director Tourism, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) said: “Through the efforts of the Cruise Arabia alliance with Dubai and Oman, the Arabian Gulf is fast becoming a leading winter cruise destination. We are focusing on raising awareness of the diverse shore experiences the region can offer passengers. This focus will embrace international, regional and domestic markets to generate demand and create a commercially viable and competitive destination for the world’s leading cruise lines. Our collaborative approach is already delivering results, and at ATM we were able to engage travel trade partners in our quest to leverage this significant potential.”
Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman together provide a compelling destination experience for cruise travellers. Dubai port’s proximity to the centre of the city and excellent transportation links means that the attractions of the city are within immediate reach of cruise passengers. Its ‘must-experience’ attractions include Burj Khalifa, the Palm Jumeirah, and the Burj Al Arab; the desert and coastline; and the contrast between the ultra-modern skyline and Bedouin culture and heritage, and world-class malls and traditional souqs.
The UAE capital Abu Dhabi has a tourism offering focused on the preservation of heritage and culture, including the protection of archaeological and historical sites and the development of museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The city is fast-emerging as a destination of note for those interested in artistic and cultural activities on their travels.
Oman, with three key ports for cruise at Muscat, Salalah and Khasab, offers 3,160Kms of unspoiled coastline, and is a destination for an authentic Arabian visitor experience covering culture, heritage, nature and adventure.