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Cruise vacations bear brunt of economic downturn

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ANDREA LOPESNew Delhi

The unfavourable economic environment is having an impact on cruise tourism. Gautam Chadha, chief executive, Tirun Travel Marketing (which represents Royal Caribbean Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and Celebrity Cruises in India) said, “There is a confused economic situation and a distinct slowdown. I expect this year is going to be flat.” Cruising has been growing at an average rate of between six-seven per cent since the last five years but even this modest figure is expected to drop this year.

Speaking about the company’s strategy, he added, “We saw great opportunity for growth in Europe and ramped up the number of ships in Europe. Our intent was that by 2012, 50 per cent of our clientele should come from outside of North America and we achieved that in 2012.” Already 50 per cent of the company’s ships are deployed outside North America and it has seasonal deployment of ships in Australia and New Zealand and an enhanced presence in Asia.

Sharing his thoughts on how the Indian market for cruising was faring, Chadha said that the Indian traveller was a strong buyer for the summer months. “There are explorers among us and we are beginning to see people looking for new things. The Far East is good business, people are opting for longer duration cruises via Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.”

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