Dubai a top destination for cruise tourism
Posted on April 29, 2015
Unique services and marketing help numbers of tourists increase
The efforts of the General Department of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA-Dubai) to promote the city’s tourism sector and attract more visitors by offering unique services are proving to be successful with the growing numbers, according to a senior GDRFA official.
“The aim is to attract more tourists by offering unique services to the public and also through marketing by cooperating with the concerned authorities such as DP World and the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) to promote the tourism sector in Dubai and in the country,” Maj Gen Mohammad Al Merri, Director-General of the GDRFA-Dubai, said.
Maj Gen Al Merri noted said the development of the department’s services at Dubai seaports has made the sea borders among the world’s top destinations for winter cruise tourism, with more than 500,000 cruise tourists coming to Dubai last year.
“The cruise tourism in the UAE and Dubai has been increasing steadily. Dubai received more than 500,000 cruise tourists in 2014 and the numbers are expected to cross 600,000 this year with more vessels sailing into UAE waters.”
Maj Gen Al Merri said, in 1998, only 10,000 cruise tourists came to Dubai.
“Now, we have more than half a million cruise tourists coming in during the tourist season in Dubai, which begins in October and ends in July of each year.”
Colonel Hussain Ebrahim, Assistant of the Director-General for sea and land ports at the GDRFA-Dubai, said that there are six seaports in Dubai — Jebel Ali Port, Port Rashid, Al Shindagha Port, Al Hamriya Port, the Dry Dock Port and the Creek.
“The GDRFA offers different kind of services in these ports such as the registration of ships and sailors, issuing visas to tourists and more. Due to the fact that Dubai airport offers flights across the world and the unique services offered by all Dubai airports, most of the shipping and tourist companies prefer to come via Dubai seaports,” he said.
Colonel Hussain said some vessels which arrive at Dubai seaports have to change their crews, which means sailors leave via Dubai airport while others join.
“Tourists on a cruise coming from around the world most often use Dubai airport to return to their countries. According to official statistics, 75 per cent of tourists arriving across the seaports in Dubai return to their country through Dubai airport.
“In addition to the cruise tourists, the GDRFA staff also deals with the ships’ crews which have between 1,500 to 2,000 staff members per ship,” he said, “On average, there are about 600 tourists per cruise ship.”
Colonel Hussain said that next year the number of cruise tourists is expected to rise because the number of cruise ships has increased to up to four ships per day during the season. Most of the cruise ships come from Europe and they stop here to load or unload passengers or tourists.
“In order to facilitate and speed up the procedures, we are checking on tourists before the arrival of the vessel. We check the names and documents before the arrival of the ship which allows easy passage for the tourists without stopping and without the need for any processes inside the port.”
He added: “In addition to that, the new UAE rule that gives multiple-entry visas to cruise passengers has proved a boost to the sector in this season.”
The rule, which took effect last year, allows cruise tourists to get a multiple-entry visa for all the UAE ports in their itinerary for Dh200. Tourists can enter the UAE through any of its airports, continue on a cruise out of its ports, and come back to the UAE on the same visa.
“Though the procedure to get such a visa remains the same, it is now simplified as passengers can get it in one step, and for travellers from the subcontinent it will be cheaper,” said Colonel Hussain.
He added that there are also passengers from the 46 countries who can enter the UAE without the need for prior visa.