Ecruising branches out with Africa deal

Ecruising branches out with Africa deal
By admin

Online cruise wholesaler, Ecruising, has made its first foray into the destination management business after forming a joint venture in Australia with African ground handler, Maniago Safaris.

The partnership will see the creation of Maniago Safaris Australia. It is expected to be the first of several representation deals for Ecruising as it expands beyond its cruising roots, with talks already taking place with operators in Asia and South America.

Ecruising will become the exclusive representative for the Kenya-based company in Australia with ex-Travel Indochina and APT manager Bradley Ellis heading up Maniago Safaris Australia as general manager.

It will focus on selling land content across eastern and southern Africa with a key focus on targeting the Australian meetings, incentive and conference market. Special interest groups and the independent leisure travel market will also be tapped.

Maniago Safaris was founded 20 years ago and designs itineraries and product across 11 African nations. It also operates a dedicated incentive business, African Incentive Designers.

While having reps in Canada, Spain, US and the UK, Australia, until now, has been overlooked by Maniago. Nairobi-based executive director Peter Karanja said it has taken a "few bookings here and there" from Australia but admitted its knowledge of the market had been limited.

"In partnership with Ecruising we are ready to grow in Australia. The time is right and I have no doubt it will be a success," he said.

Ecruising founder and chairman Brett Dudley said a brochure will be produced by the end of March while talks have been planned with wholesalers and meetings and incentive organisers as it looks to raise awareness of Maniago and its product.

Dudley told Travel Today he was "under no illusions" of the task of developing up a business almost from scratch and competing with African ground handlers who already have established relationships in Australia.

"We are not going to change the world in 12 months," he acknowledged. "The first year is about establishing the business and getting the name out there. 2014 will be about sales and growth."

Marketing funds will be "considerable", he said, with the operation keen to develop co-op campaigns with airlines, wholesalers, South African Tourism and the Kenya Tourist Board.

"The intention will be to grow the market rather than take market share," Dudley said. "When Ecruising was set up opponents said we just take business away from others. But the aim then was to grow the market which is what happened."

He denied a move into the destination management business was incongruous with his cruising background.

"We have already operated one-off tours to Africa so we do have knowledge of the market," he said. "This will not detract form Ecruising or Cruise Agents. I am an entrepreneur, it's just another venture."

He revealed that further deals are likely within 12 months as it looks to develop its representation division.

Brett Dudley is pictured with Maniago Safaris Australia general manager Bradley Ellis.



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