New improvements to the UAE’s visa system are boosting Dubai’s cruise sector and medical tourism in the emirate. The ruling, which has taken effect on August 2014, introduces a multiple-entry tourist visa for cruise passengers and entry permits for medical tourists and their companions.
The so-called multi-visa costs UAEd200 (about € 40 or US$ 50) and remains to be handled exclusively by tour operators, so passengers don’t need to care about papers nor wait in rows once at destination. Dubai being home port of many vessels, the emirate expects to receive not less than one million cruise tourists by 2020, according to the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
Only during last season –November 2013 to April 2014–, Dubai welcomed 300,000 cruise passengers, of which more than a half also visited Abu Dhabi and other nearby destinations. For Hamad bin Mejren, Director of Business Tourism at DTCM, the multi-visa “reduces costs for passengers arriving to Dubai and taking a cruise from Mina Rashid to neighbor ports, or a short break to Oman or Saudi Arabia and returning to Dubai”, he stated. Thus, the new visa allow travelers coming from growing tourist emitters –such as India, China, Russia, Brazil, or South Africa– to travel around many Gulf countries with a single permit. Main ports in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Oman and Ras al Khaimah are planning to expand or have started the works already. Dubai’s Mina Rashid Cruise Terminal will also increase its capacity from five to seven vessels at once, which will raise its disembark ratio to up to 14,000 passengers a day.