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Mon 1 Jan 2007 04:00 AM

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Cruise collective on the cards

Delegates at a high-profile cruise conference staged during last month’s Seatrade Middle East Maritime exhibition in Dubai unanimously agreed the industry should establish a collective body to promote the region as a cruise destination.

Cruise collective on the cards
Awadh al Ketbi called for a cruise control.

Delegates at a high-profile cruise conference staged during last month’s Seatrade Middle East Maritime exhibition in Dubai unanimously agreed the industry should establish a collective body to promote the region as a cruise destination.

Senior representatives from some of the world’s leading cruise companies met with local tour operators and DMCs to discuss ways to maximise cruise passenger opportunities, which included creating joint marketing campaigns.

Leading the call for collectivisation was Awadh al Ketbi, acting manager, Dubai Cruise Terminal, Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), who was supported by key members of the region’s travel industry, including Ghassan Aridi, CEO, Alpha Tours, the GSA for Costa Cruises region-wide.

“We need to have a lot of work in terms of marketing and creating awareness and to present the product to the market here,” he said. “That’s why we need to form a committee for tour operators, port authorities, cruise operators to work hard in promoting this kind of tourism.”

There was a general agreement that a committee would require the efforts of all those in a position to benefit from cruising.

“Everybody needs to do their part to achieve the overall cause,” said Dario Rustico, director of sales, Pacific Asia operations, Costa Cruises, which launched its first cruise programme from Dubai last month.

John Tercek, vice president commercial, Royal Caribbean, said creative packaging was needed to differentiate between destinations included on a Gulf cruise itinerary, and to do that, the cooperation of tourism boards, cruise companies, and tour operators was essential.

Dnata’s manager of airline affairs, Mark Turner, concurred, and suggested that each destination should focus on a specific area of tourism-related interest.

“You could sell Dubai for its high-end shopping and the glitz and glamour, Fujairah for its diving and water sports, and then Oman for its cultural attractions,” he said.

Delegates also discussed the possibility of introducing a cruise visa for the GCC, whereby passengers only had to apply for one visa valid in each port of call.

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