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Cruise tourism sails on happy times in Dubai

DUBAI: The city received more than 500,000 cruise tourists in 2014, making Dubai one of the top destinations for winter cruise tourism in the world, according to a media report.

Maj Gen Mohammad Al Merri, Director-General, General Department of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA-Dubai) was quoted as saying by Gulf News that development of the services offered by tourism department at Dubai seaports have made sea borders one of the most preferred for winter cruise tourism.

“The cruise tourism in the UAE and Dubai has been increasing steadily. More than 500,000 cruise tourists visited Dubai in 2014, and the number is expected to cross 600,000 this year with more vessels sailing into UAE waters,” he reportedly said, adding that  in 1998, only 10,000 cruise tourists came to Dubai.

Meanwhile, Colonel Hussain Ebrahim, Assistant to the Director-General for sea, and land ports at GDRFA-Dubai, reportedly 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 at these ports like registration of ships and sailors, issuing visas to tourists, and more. Since Dubai airport offers flights across the world and unique services offered by all Dubai airports, most of the shipping and tourist companies prefer to come via Dubai seaports,” he further said.

“Tourists on a cruise coming from around the world most often use Dubai airport to return to their countries. According to official statistics, 75 percent of tourists arriving across the seaports in Dubai return to their country through Dubai airport,” he was quoted as saying.

Colonel Hussain added that cruise tourists are expected to increase next years since 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.

“The new UAE rule that gives multiple-entry visas to cruise passengers has also boosted the sector in this season,” he said.

The rule, which came into 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, Gulf News reported.

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