Middle East Cruise News

GAC expands Middle East cruise services with new appointment

The Dubai-based shipping, logistics and marine services company GAC Group has appointed Jasem Zaiton as its business development consultant for the cruise sector, as the company looks to expand its cruise services.

Zaiton has over 20 years of experience in the cruise shipping and tourism sectors, with his new role focusing on expanding the company’s services across emerging cruise locations in the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and the Indian subcontinent, according to GAC.

Zaiton runs his own consultancy firm, which provides travel and tourism solutions to clients in both the public and private sectors, especially cruise lines. Its mission is multifaceted, encompassing management and business consulting, travel and tourism services, and on-the-job training.

Jasem Zaiton

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Zaiton has also served on a number of governmental committees, offering consulting and logistical assistance. In his previous position, Zaiton joined Inchcape Shipping Services in April 2017 as global commercial manager, focusing on cruise business development and strategy.

GAC is focusing on expanding its cruise agency services, providing cruise lines with port and immigration clearances, berth reservations management, husbandry services and delivery of bunker fuels, spares and provisions.

The company also works with local tour specialists and suppliers for passenger shore excursions, domestic transport and emergency support.

It is likely this space in which Zaiton will be looking to increase activity, as GAC is already a well-established ship agent in the merchant shipping industry.

The appointment comes ahead of the 2022/23 Middle East cruise season, during which Dubai, the primary cruise port in the region, is poised to welcome 800,000 cruise tourists aboard eight homeporting cruise ships in addition to a dozen cruise ships sailing from or via the city on grand voyages.

AIDA, TUI, MSC and Costa Cruises in particular are all planning to deploy newer, larger cruise ships to Dubai for the coming cruise season, which will result in greater demand and passenger loads, particularly as the season coincides with the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

AIDA Cruises’ new LNG mega ship AIDAcosma will homeport in the city, while MSC Cruises has upgraded from its already huge MSC Virtuosa, to the even larger MSC World Europa (the second-largest class of cruise ship in the world after Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships).

While the coming cruise season is seen by tourism officials in the UAE as a bridge to recovery, next year’s 2023/24 cruise season is expected to mark the full return of the industry to pre-pandemic levels.

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