And Middle East water enthusiasts are also being courted by overseas operators hoping to entice regional tourists to their lakes and oceans.
And now a flurry of new waterborne products are to be unveiled at Arabian Travel Market – the Middle East’s premier travel and tourism exhibition – which will be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 4-7.
Deborah Kirkwood, whose yacht charter business, Dusail, was launched in November, will be telling ATM 2004 visitors that she is already planning to add a second boat to her business.
She said: “The development of Palm Island and the World project is encouraging more people to take to the water to see these islands. We launched in November with our 50 ft luxury yacht Andorra which caters for the VIP market and carries up to 18 guests
“We are now planning to add a 50 ft open catamaran in September that can carry 50 passengers to appeal to the corporate day charter business.”
She added: “Locally tourism and trade is developing rapidly in the Middle East partly because of the professional and aggressive marketing and promotional ideas from Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and that is boosting demand from people who want to get out on the water.”
Yachting will also be on the agenda at IFA Hotels & Resorts’ stand at the Dubai Pavilion at ATM with its Yacht Ownership Club.
The company offers timeshares on its 22 metre luxury Maiora yacht.
“Sold on a weekly basis per year for a five year period, timeshare ownership provides a carefree yachting experience. This is a flexible programme that means if owners don’t wish to use their week they can enter into an exchange programme with IFA Yacht Ownership Club or have the yacht chartered out on their behalf,” said James Wilson, President and COO of IFA Hotels & Resorts.
The IFA Yacht Ownership Club will be associated with the exclusive five-star Palm Beach Club on Palm Island Jumeirah.
Among overseas water vacations on offer at ATM is sailing on Lake Geneva in the shadow of Mont Blanc in a yacht once owned by Baron Edmond de Rothschild.
ELITE Rent-a-Car of Switzerland, which specializes in renting prestige cars and chauffeur driven vehicles across Europe, will be offering the chance to sign up for cruises on their crewed, Lake Geneva-based 13 metre ELITE Grand Soleil 42 yacht during the season, from October to May.
Hires can be for a day, weekend or a week on the vessel, which is equipped for luxury cruising and regattas and can accommodate parties of up to eight guests.
ELITE President, Zanoletti Graziella, said: “Visitors to Europe from the Middle East are a key market for our luxury car rental business and we got 800,000 euros worth of business during last year’s show.
“Our total business from visitors from the GCC countries last year came to 16 million euros.”
The company is looking to appoint an exclusive representative to cover the Middle East at the show.
Matt Thompson, Group Exhibition Director at organisers Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), organisers of ATM, said: “Sailing and watersports are an increasingly important part of the leisure package that people are looking for in a holiday and it is an area in which the Middle East can look forward to expanding.”
To date, 1,200 exhibitors from 55 countries have signed on for ATM 2004, which is already bigger in floor space by 25 per cent on last year’s event.
ATM 2004 is expected to benefit from the staging just prior to the event of the 4th Global Travel & Tourism Summit in Doha from May 1 to 3 organized by the World Travel & Tourism Council.
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