UAE grants multiple-entry visa to cruise tourists
Abu Dhabi, November 19, 2012
Cruise passengers that hold passports from countries that are currently unable to obtain a tourist visa on arrival, will now be allowed to enter the UAE frequently over a three month period from the date of issue.
They can stay for a period of 14 days from the date of entry while the cruise lines and their agents will act as visa sponsors.
The news has been given an enthusiastic welcome by stakeholders in Abu Dhabi’s expanding cruise industry.
It comes at an opportune time as Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) prepares to mount a destination promotion at SeaTrade Med, the Cruise and Superyacht exhibition and conference being held in Marseille, France later this month.
“This new visa rule will provide opportunities for passengers to return and experience more of Abu Dhabi and has the potential to attract new cruise passengers from strong emerging markets such as Russia, China and India,” said Noura Al Dhaheri, Leisure Product Development manager, TCA Abu Dhabi.
“We anticipate it being a strong talking point among operators at the Marseille event.”
Abu Dhabi has experienced significant growth in cruise arrivals in the past six years and expects to receive 180,000 passengers from 88 vessels in the current 2012/2013 season – generating 19 per cent more passengers from 14 extra arrivals on last season – up from just 35,000 passengers from 29 arrivals in 2006/2007.
“We are on-track to welcome over 100 vessels and around 250,000 passengers per season by 2014/2015, from a cruise market currently dominated by European arrivals,” added Al Dhaheri.
“A multiple-entry visit visa for cruise tourists will make it easier for us compete more effectively with other destinations, as well as extend length of stay and provide valuable additional business for our hotel and supporting ancillary tourism providers.”
China, Russia and India have emerged as important growth markets for Abu Dhabi in 2012 - China produced 78 per cent more hotel guests in the first nine months this year while Russia achieved a 44 per cent hotel guest growth during the same period, and TCA Abu Dhabi is currently engaged in a feasibility exercise to create a permanent promotional presence in India next year.
Captain Mohamed Al Shamisi, executive vice president, Ports Unit, Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) said, “One of the major trends in the cruising sector is increasing numbers of passengers from growing economies such as Russia, China and India.”
“We are very grateful to the UAE authorities for making it easy for tourists to visit Abu Dhabi. This will make a major contribution to increasing visitor numbers and supporting the diversification of our economy.
“We know there is strong interest from tourists around the world to see the fantastic sights of Abu Dhabi and anything which makes us an even more welcoming and accessible place to have a vacation, is very welcome,” he added.
Some of the world’s leading cruise lines, such as Costa Cruises, Cunard, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Holland America Line, Fred Olsen Lines, and German operators Aida Cruises and TUI Cruises currently include Abu Dhabi on their itineraries.
“The record number of passengers last season demonstrates our ongoing commitment to work with cruise lines and travel agencies to instil confidence and ignite interest in Abu Dhabi as a tourist destination,” said Martijn Van de Linde, chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Terminals, the operator of Abu Dhabi’s ports.
“The new rules are great news for Abu Dhabi’s tourism industry and we look forward to working with our partners to ensure that our ports will continue to best serve Abu Dhabi’s growing hospitality industry and to encourage tourists to keep coming back and using Abu Dhabi as a gateway to the Arabian Gulf.” – TradeArabia News Service