Bright future beckons for gulf cruise vacations
Gulf tourism authorities are lobbying for a new visa which could significantly reduce the cost of cruises in the Middle East, a cruise tourism hotspot which is rapidly growing in popularity. At the moment, some passengers aboard gulf cruises are forced to apply for a visa for every port stop they wish to take, at […]
At the moment, some passengers aboard gulf cruises are forced to apply for a visa for every port stop they wish to take, at a cost of up to $50 per stop.
For tourists from places such as Russia and China, this can add as much as $600 onto the cost of a cruise for a family of four, participants at this week’s Cruise Seminar at the Arabian Travel Market calculated.
However, the Abu Dhabi Tourist Authority has now confirmed that it is lobbying for a new cruise visa, saying that it knows the current visa fees are “a substantive barrier and an issue that needs to be addressed.”
The lifting of visa restrictions is likely to further boost the already booming cruise industry in the region, which has experienced double-digit growth in cruise tourism in recent years according to cruise publisher Seatrade.
Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are at the center of the action, with the emirates’ respective tourism authorities at pains to point out that they are developing infrastructure as fast as possible.
In response to concerns raised over the region’s ports, which are often geared up for cargo ships and offer little for passengers, Dubai tourist officials said that plans were in place to expand Dubai’s ports, while Abu Dhabi pointed out that before long, the museums and attractions of the new Sa’adiyat island development would greet arriving passengers.
This winter season, luxury cruise line MSC is planning to homeport one of its ships in Abu Dhabi, sailing a schedule of eight-day cruises from Abu Dhabi from the end of October calling at Dubai, Khasab, Al Fujairah and Muscat.
Abu Dhabi tourism authorities believe an alliance with MSC will deliver 39,000 new tourists to their emirate annually.