After three years of discussions, the UAE is finally poised to introduce the multiple entry visa system from September this year.
The move is expected to bump up tourism figures for Dubai, which is the Middle Eastern hub for many of the major cruise companies that embark on Gulf sailings, which include stops in Bahrain and Qatar.
Confirming the news, the executive director of Business Tourism at of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Hamad bin Mejren, said in a statement: “We have re-emphasised the importance of having implemented a multiple entry UAE visa for the cruise tourists to the highest level and it is underway.”
Currently, the visa process imposes extra fees as well as extensive paperwork for the tourists from 32 nationalities who do not get visas on arrival in the UAE.
Bin Mejren said the multiple entry visas will help in removing such obstacles and will create a wider marketing perspective to bring tourists from key source countries such as Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil and other emerging markets.
Speaking with Emirates 24|7 earlier, he said: “We have successfully drawn a record number of passengers from Germany, Britain and Italy.
“The idea now is to expand on that base and target emerging markets such as China, India and South America, specifically Brazil. It is important to focus on those destinations that have daily flight connections with Dubai, to facilitate the tourists.”
Dubai serves as a home port for five of the world's leading cruise lines: Costa Cruises, Aida Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, TUI Cruises and FTI Cruises.
Dubai Cruise Terminals catered to 396,500 cruise tourists who arrived from 108 ship calls in 2011.
This year, Dubai is expected to see 420,000 cruise tourists to the emirate, according to the DTCM.
The projections for 2013 are 125 cruise ships and 450,000 passengers and in 2014 the number of cruise ships and passengers will be 135 and 475,000, respectively.
In 2015, this number will go up to 145 cruise ships and 500,000 passengers. (with inputs from Bindu Suresh Rai)