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New multi-visa boosts Dubai’s cruise tourism

New multi-visa boosts Dubai’s cruise tourism
New improvements to the UAE’s visa system are set to boost cruise tourism in Dubai and surrounding emirate, according to Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

The ruling, which took effect last month, introduces a multiple-entry tourist visa for cruise passengers and entry permits for medical tourists and their companions.

The multi-visa costs equivalent of around $50 and is handled exclusively by tour operators, so passengers don’t need to worry about papers  or wait in rows at the destination.

Dubai expects to receive 1m cruise tourists by 2020, according to DTCM, who together with Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority formed Cruise Arabia last year to expand cruising in the Arabian Gulf.

Last season - which ran from November 2013 to April 2014 - Dubai welcomed 300,000 cruise passengers, many of these also visited Abu Dhabi and other nearby destinations.

Hamad bin Mejren, executive director of business tourism at DTCM said the multi-visa ‘reduces costs and time for many passengers arriving in Dubai by plane and taking a cruise from Mina Rashid, to Abu Dhabi and/or Oman.’

The new visa allows travellers coming from growing passenger source markets such as India, China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa to visit multiple Gulf countries with a single permit.

Ports in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Oman and Ras al Khaimah are planning to expand their cruise facilities or have started work already. Dubai’s Mina Rashid Cruise Terminal is planning to increase its handling capacity from five to seven vessels simultaneously, to  welcome up to 14,000 passengers a day.

DTCM’s bin Mejren and director cruise tourism Jamal al Falasi, are attending Seatrade Med in Barcelona September 16-18, 2014.