Cruise tourism expected to pump billions into Dubai economy


A multiple-entry visa system will soon be implemented in U.A.E. in order to promote the emirate’s reputation as a tourist center and to encourage the cruise tourism – one of the most beneficial segments of the local tourism industry.

Although there are some concerns that the Europian debt crisis may weaken the demand and cause negative influence over the tourist flow on cruises, Dubai puts efforts to streamline the new visa procedures, promoting a plan to introduce the changes of the visa regime for tourists from September 2012.

Costa Cruise Deals Khalid Bin Sulayem, the general director of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), recently pointed out that the global cruise ship business has its difficuties, but in U.A.E. it is a growing business. Dubai is expected to play a greater role in the region, focusing on the improvement of coordination with the neighbouring countries and cruise ship terminal infrustructure development.

The present one-entry visa, attended with an extensive paperwork and extra fees is a serious obstacle to the cruise toursm, because the visitors of 32 nations are not permitted to get visas on the arrival in U.A.E. and have to obtain it in advance. Considering that most cruises start and finish in Dubai and berth only for one day or so elsewhere, many visitors have to obtain a second entry stamp before disembarking and spend precious time on queuing for additional visas. Lighening the visa procedures will allow these visitors a longer stay at the cost, spending their money on site-seeing and shopping, thus pumping the local economy.

Hamad bin Mejren, the executive director of the business tourism unit at the DCTM informed that the Department is co-operating with Federal Government in speeding up the implementation of the plan as soon as possible. In a statement ussued in May, he said that such a measure will boost the growing tourism industry in Dubai and his Department will re-emphasise the importance of a multiple-entry UAE visa for cruise tourists to the highest levels of government.

If the new visa regime is adopted before the new season opens, it may help the emirate to exceed the number of 420,000 cruise tourists expected to arrive this year, compared to the 396,500 arrivals on 108 liners in 2011. A sustainable rise in the cruise tourist number should be expected according to DTCM, through to 2015, when they forecast 145 port calls, 500,000 passengers and and an economic impact of Dh3.5bn ($952.8m). A number of Dubai-based lines are also looking to attract Gulf nationals – particularly those from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

This year, two new lines – the Germany-based FTI Cruises and TUI Cruises continue their launching operations out of Dubai, increasing the number of operators based at the emrate’s international cruise terminal to five.

Since the cruise tourists are considered good spenders when ashore, the cruise tourism is a lucrative business, nevermind beeing only a part of Dubai’s broader holiday and travel trade. Having five lines out of Dubai will cause more supplies to be bought locally, as contribution to the domestic economy.


  1. queuing for visas is not the issue. It is the rule whereby the visitors have to leave the country for a full 30 days… makes for a long and expensive cruise…


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