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United, we cruise: The merits of the proposed GCC cruise visa
And while developing internal infrastructure is pivotal to encouraging cruise tourism, so too, is investing in inter-GCC ties.
May 28, 2012 6:33 by Eva Fernandes
For some time now, the UAE has attempting to establish itself as a regional hub for cruise tourism. Though, the country is strategically positioned, the cruise industry has suffered a few blows in the past. Most recently, last month Italian MSC Cruises announced it ditched plans to return to Abu Dhabi next season, opting to take their ship to Durban, South Africa, instead. The MSC Lirica had started its cruises to Muscat, Fujairah, Khasab and Dubai just a year ago; things seemed to be going well. In fact, MSC Cruises had intended on returning with a bigger ship with the capacity of 54,000 people. And yet, the company has credited the plans to scrap the plans for the cruise to a lack of supporting infrastructure:
For its part, the Abu Dhabi government has responded rather actively. Plans of establishing a dedicated cruise terminal at Mina Zayed within three years are among other plans to develop a permanent cruise port of call at one of Abu Dhabi’s islands.
And while developing internal infrastructure is pivotal to encouraging cruise tourism, so too, is investing in inter-GCC ties. Which is why, Kipp is thrilled to hear of plans to allow cruise tourists a multiple entry GCC-wide visa. Although there have been talks for such a visa for almost three years now, the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) says the multiple visa should be available to tourists by this September.
Kipp’s going to bite our tongue before we spurt out something about how we stand when we are united as opposed to when we are divided and the GCC-monetary union-that is a whole another conversation. Nonetheless it is refreshing to see the region come together for the purposes of cracking into the cruise industry; although with both Dubai and Abu Dhabi competing to become the ‘regional cruise hub’ we are going to save our praise for unity until we see how this plays out.