As this year’s cruise season begins, Dubai is targeting new markets from Europe and India to join in as the 9-month seasonal venture is one of the most lucrative tourism strategies, says Jamal Humaid Al Falasi, Director, Dubai Cruise Tourism, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).
When does the real cruise season begin for the ports in Dubai?
Dubai’s cruise season typically lasts for around nine months from October to June. The 2017-18 season commenced on October 25 with the arrival of luxury cruise ship Seabourn Encore and is expected to conclude on June 27, 2018 with the departure of cruise liner Sea Princess.
What are the expected numbers this year?
During 2016-17, Dubai witnessed a 15 per cent increase in visitor numbers and 18 per cent increase in ship calls compared to the previous season. Moving forward, we expect to maintain this momentum as we work towards achieving Dubai Cruise Tourism’s strategic goal of attracting one million cruise tourists per season by the 2020-21 cruise season. In the current season, Dubai Cruise Terminal expects to host ships from 22 cruise lines from around the world.
How will this season be different from others?
We are optimistic about the new season in view of recent federal government policy reforms that have made it easier for visitors from various markets to enjoy cruise trips from Dubai. These include the granting of free visa-on-arrival access to Chinese and Russian citizens and to Indian nationals holding a valid US visa or Green Card. This is in addition to visas-on-arrival already offered to nationals from 47 countries, as well as the introduction in 2014 of a UAE multi-entry cruise visa and a simplified online visa process for visitors from other countries. Our existing partnerships with cruise lines, as well as the continued collaboration with other Dubai public and private sector stakeholders, are bound to support our efforts to attract more visitors.
What are the projections for 2018 in terms of cruise tourism promotion?
Thanks to concerted promotional and marketing initiatives undertaken by Dubai Tourism in collaboration with public and private sector stakeholders locally and regionally – such as the formation of the Cruise Arabia alliance – Dubai is now included in the itineraries of over 22 world-class cruise lines. We are working in collaboration with several cruise lines and with our 20 overseas offices, conducting multi-city roadshows, trainings and other destination promotion activities in various international markets. We are also spearheading the activities of Cruise Arabia, a synergy of regional tourism authorities, participating in a unified way at major industry events.