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GCC Needs To Be Educated About Cruise Holidays – Operators

GCC Needs To Be Educated About Cruise Holidays – Operators

The need to educate Gulf vacationers is rising as the region is growing to be a source market for cruise tourists.

Both the travel operator and the consumer in the GCC need to be further educated about cruise tourism to fully tap the region’s potential as a source of passengers, industry experts said at the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market.

“We need the travel industry to understand the importance of cruising and why they should recommend it,” said Helen Beck, regional director, International Representatives, EMEA, Royal Caribbean International.

Know the basics

“They have to know the basics and then they need to know the differences between various cruise liners. Each of the cruise line offers something different,” Beck added. “The job of the travel agent is to match the customer with the right cruise. If they are not educated about different options it is hard to choose the right one”

Beck stressed that though the consumer also needs to be aware of the different type of cruises, it is the travel trade sector that needs more education “because if they don’t understand then if the customer comes in they will not be able to sell it.”

Although the Gulf region has been traditionally positioned as a favorable cruise destination, operators say it is now also a growing source market for cruise tourism.

“The emphasis needs to be more on the cruise vacationers from the region, which is increasing,” said Dan Essex, CEO, Luxury Cruise Portfolio. “Gulf nationals want to travel afield and many cruise lines are looking for source markets in the region.”

However, Essex too asserted that there is a lack of education among the Gulf consumers about cruise vacations.

“Size of accommodation on board ships is a challenge because people [Arab consumers] are looking to take up larger accommodations,” he said, adding that this is not possible aboard cruises.

A growing demand

Despite such challenges, the luxury cruise operator does not undermine the scope of cruise tourism in the region—both as a source market and a destination.

“The market at the moment is embryonic as source market but there is huge potential,” said Essex. “People ask if the Arab culture is right for cruise tourism but that question is put to markets like India as well, which is the fifth fastest growing market for cruises, while Asia and South America are also becoming attractive.”

“The culture and the expectation of a holiday is different in all these countries but it is all about how we manage these expectations.”

Operators say that there is a rising demand for cruise holidays from Bahrain, Saudi and Kuwait. Demand from the UAE and Qatar is also growing.

“We have been seeing double digit growth especially in the last three to four years,” said Beck. “Bahrain is very strong and so is Saudi and the UAE. Kuwait is improving in the last two years and so have the markets in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.”

“These markets have had particular issues in the last few years and so their performance has not been good but the demand is rising.”

 

 

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