ABU DHABI – All cruise industry eyes are on Abu Dhabi this week (13-14 December 2016) as 15 of the world’s leading cruise line executives and representatives join an impressive line-up of industry speakers for the return of year’s Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, hosted by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), the body responsible for the development and promotion of the cruise tourism sector.
The two-day cruise forum will bring news of significant cruise growth in the region and Abu Dhabi in particular, which will use the opportunity to highlight significant milestones in Abu Dhabi’s cruise tourism – a permanent cruise terminal which now serves as a home porting venue for cruise lines, and the addition of the region’s first beach stopover on Arabian Gulf cruise itineraries at Sir Bani Yas Island.
Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, to be held at the Four Season Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, includes a number of dynamic talks focusing on current trends, topics and talking-points confronting the region. Delivered by an outstanding line-up of cruise industry leaders, each session promises to feature frank, lively and honest debate.
15 cruise line representations will join the discussions from: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises & Azamara Club Cruises; MSC Cruises; Cruise & Maritime Voyages; Crystal Cruises; MSC Cruises; Carnival Australia; Thomson Cruises; TUI Cruises GmbH; Silversea Cruises; Carnival Corporation & plc; and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
In an industry first, all delegates to the Forum are also invited to observe the high-level discussion of the Summit session, taking place on the first day of the event. As the region continues to consolidate its position as a fully established cruise destination, and with more cruise line new entrants in prospect, senior government representatives and NTOs from across the region will give their views on how the success so far achieved in cruise tourism can be sustained and extended, and the plans for further infrastructure investment. Leading cruise line executives will give their assessment of the region and its potential, looking at the opportunities it presents and the operating challenges it provides in a competitive market.
According to Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade, organisers of the Cruise Forum: “As the growth of cruise tourism within the region continues on an upwards trend, these are exciting times for the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority to host this essential forum. Abu Dhabi is one fast becoming one of the most successful cruise destinations in the region, with 139 vessel calls expected in 2016-2017 (including nine maiden calls); a remarkable increase of 23% from the previous year.
“Passenger figures are also predicted to increase to 270,000, a sizeable jump from the record 231,660 that called at the ultra-modern Zayed Port terminal last season. This is, of course, in addition to the 40 calls and 65,000 passengers confirmed for Sir Bani Yas Island for the 2015-2016 season; a new jewel in the culturally diverse crown of the Arabian Gulf.”
Hot topics also under the spotlight will be: Cruise itineraries and destination development; Developing the region’s credentials as a mature cruise destination; a unique Panel Discussion of topics ranging from ‘what are the unique selling points of the region that will ensure it remains competitive as a winter cruise destination?’ to ‘new destinations for the region and their importance for itinerary enrichment’ and ‘expanding ex-Gulf itineraries to include India’. A new, very interesting discussion will be centred around: ‘Protecting passenger and crew health throughout cruise itineraries – overcoming the challenges’ and focusing on land: ‘Port and terminal infrastructure and the operating environment’.
The Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum has been held for the past consecutive years in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman and Qatar. It has previously been held in Bahrain. All five destinations make up the Cruise Arabia alliance of regional Gulf cruise destinations – and the event’s return to Abu Dhabi reflects the regional significance for the future of cruising in the Arabian Gulf.