Emirates Group-owned dnata has agreed to buy a majority stake in Imagine Cruising.
Based in the UK with offices in South Africa, Imagine Cruising operates and sells cruises throughout the world.
Dubai’s dnata has shown an increasing interest in UK tour operators. In February last year, Thomas Cook sold Gold Medal, a UK-based distributor of long-haul scheduled flights, hotels and car hire, to dnata for £45 million (Dh249.6m) to cut its losses.
The deal included the online travel agent netflights.com and Pure Luxury. The Dubai group also added Stella Travel Services, including the TravelBag, Travel2, Sunmaster, Global Travel Group and Triton Rooms brands in September last year.
“Imagine Cruising is a key distributor of cruise products around the world. The addition of the company to the dnata portfolio adds expertise in the growing cruise sector, strengthening our position as an international leader in travel services,” said Iain Andrew, divisional senior vice president of dnata’s travel business.
The cruise industry is benefitting from a revival both globally and locally. Abu Dhabi Ports is expecting an increase of 25 per cent in cruise liners calling at Zayed Port, lifting the number of cruise tourists by half this season to about 185,000. In 2014, Dubai received 358,000 passengers from 94 cruise ship calls, and the forecast for 2015 stands at 425,000 cruise tourists from 115 ship calls.
The Hamdan bin Mohammed Cruise Terminal in Dubai, opened last December, will soon host five of the world’s biggest cruise operators with a capability of welcoming 14,000 cruise passengers per day.
“Imagine Cruising brings a deep understanding of a key travel market, one which will enhance the product offering of each company within the dnata family,” said Mr Andrew. “Imagine will lead the strategic development of cruise across dnata travel brands offering customers of Travel Republic, Gold Medal Travel Group and Stella Travel Services an enhanced choice of unique cruise holidays.”
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