The Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum returns to Dubai

The popular Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum returns this December 12-13 to Dubai and will take place at Lapita™; located within Dubai Parks and Resorts – home of three world-class theme parks and one water park; Riverland Dubai and the grand entrance plaza.

Held annually in the region, the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum is a platform for discussion and networking between global cruise line executives and key industry stakeholders which includes tourism leaders, ports and immigration officials, travel trade, tour operators and ground handlers.

Hosted for the first time by Dubai Parks and Resorts, the new destination will be home to at least 10 cruise line executives which to date include: AIDA Cruises; Carnival UK; Cruise & Maritime Voyages; MSC Cruises; Pullmantur Cruceros; Star Clippers; TUI Cruises GmbH; Virgin Cruises.

“Dubai continues to pioneer the growth of cruise line industry in the region and we are delighted to host the latest chapter of the cruise forum at Dubai Parks and Resorts,” said Ahmad Hussain bin Essa, General Manager – Theme Parks, DXB Entertainments PJSC, the company that owns Dubai Parks and Resorts. “As Dubai makes significant strides towards attracting 20 million tourists by 2020, this forum allows us to showcase the leisure and entertainment landscape of Dubai to this industry. As the largest integrated theme park of the region, our destination becomes one of the key enablers in opening a new itinerary for shore excursions and sharing amazing and new experiences in attracting these tourists.”

For delegates, the two-day cruise forum will again allow all attendees to observe the high-level discussion of the Summit session, taking place on the first day of the event, followed by a full day of conference sessions.

According to Chris Hayman, Chairman of Seatrade, organisers 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, cruise line executives, 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.  Nowhere else in the region is there such a high level of discussion about the future of cruising in the Arabian Gulf.”  

The two days will start with the Summit Session which will focus on ‘Managing Growth, planning for the future’ during which the region’s potential will be assessed and opportunities for infrastructure development explored as well as operating challenges in a competitive market.

A hot topic for the afternoon will be China’s growing engagement with the cruise industry and the potential for Chinese inbound tourism.

The full day conference programme on Day 2 will include:

  • Extension of the season – what are the prospects for starting the cruise season in the Gulf earlier and finishing later?  What is needed to effect this change?; Opportunities in the Middle East for smaller ships/niche cruising;
  • Port and destination development within the Gulf – what infrastructure is planned in existing cruise ports and where to next?  Are there fresh ideas for new ports/destinations?;
  • The link with India. Expanding itineraries to the Indian sub-continent and promoting cruising in the Middle East to the Indian consumer;
  • The Suez Canal/Red Sea factor.  Integral for ships deploying to and from the Middle East, discussions on tariffs, security and operational issues and potential for Red Sea cruising;
  • Land side and tour operations - improving the range and appeal of shorex offerings;
  • Taking care of the crew: how should ports respond to the needs of the crew?

The Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum has become a fixture on the regional cruise event calendar and been held for the past consecutive years in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman and Qatar and previously in Bahrain. The event’s return to Dubai reflects the regional significance for the future of cruising in the Arabian Gulf.