Four top cruise lines to showcase at GIBTM
Dubai, March 23, 2011
For the first time, four of the world’s leading cruise lines are taking part in the upcoming Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM), which is being held in Abu Dhabi from March 28 to 30.
According to Lloyd Kenyon, GIBTM’s exhibition manager, the participation of four of the world’s most respected cruise line operators - Costa Cruises, Silversea Cruises, MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean International – are testament to the fact that cruises are gradually being recognised by corporate bookers as a new travel option and have been taken as an important form of employee incentive travel, an embodiment of corporate culture, and a way of thanking clients in addition to being the perfect venues for meetings and conferences.
“You can think of cruise ships as floating conference centres, complete with state of the art auditoriums and meeting rooms; and since your colleagues can't stray too far when they're on board, it is much easier for organisers to arrange last minute changes to their programme schedules,” stated Kenyon.
“A cruise can actually save a great deal compared to the costs of a hotel and then laying on entertainment and other extras because almost everything is included in the one price. It is no surprise that in the wake of the financial downturn, cruise tourism has emerged as one of the strongest growth areas in Dubai's hospitality sector.”
Abu Dhabi’s ambition to become an international cruise hub has received a significant boost, following the signing, between Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and MSC Cruises of a landmark co-operation agreement that will see MSC Cruises deploy one of its top vessels to the UAE capital on a homeport basis from October 2011.
Under the terms of the agreement, Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed Port will serve as the primary embarkation and disembarkation point for the Italian operator’s maiden regional itinerary - scheduled for the 2011-2012 season - using its luxury MSC Lirica liner that will operate 95 calls and 19 rotations in the region.
ADTA had completed a cruise tourism study in February, with a key output being that full-fledged homeport status for Abu Dhabi has the potential to deliver upwards of 50,000 new visitors annually. MSC Lirica’s 19 voyages next season translates to a potential of 39,000 cruise arrivals alone.
“Last year, Dubai's cruise industry got a major boost with the opening of a new 3,450 sqm terminal in Port Rashid, which has the capacity to handle four ships at one time,” said Kenyon.
“Given the high cost of staying in some hotels in the region, cruising offers relatively good value, as state rooms start as low as $90 per person per day, including meals and entertainment. Dubai officials are forecasting a massive growth in cruise bookings in the next few years. Much of that will be as a result of bookings from the MICE sector,” he concluded.-TradeArabia News Service