Easy visas key for cruis­ing

With just triple-digit num­bers from In­dia for cruis­ing last year, Dubai Cruise Tourism is hop­ing that it’s four-city road­show as well as easy, mul­ti­ple-en­try visas will up the num­bers.

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Dubai Cruise Tourism was ad­mit­tedly late in pro­mot­ing its prod­ucts in In­dia last year – much af­ter the sea­son was over – and it di­rectly hit the num­bers. Ja­mal Hu­maid Al Falasi, Di­rec­tor, Dubai Cruise Tourism, who was in In­dia re­cently for its four-city road­show, says, “We cov­ered the same ci­ties even last year but we were late for the sea­son so we didn’t get good num­bers – only 500 to 700 in 2014. So we came in early this year and in time for the hol­i­day sea­son.”

The low num­bers, he said, were also due to the visa prob­lems. Now, Dubai has eased the visa process and of­fer­ing mul­ti­ple en­tries to Asians. “The mul­ti­ple-en­try visas will def­i­nitely en­cour­age more vis­its to Dubai. We have now made visas easy for In­di­ans, the flight is short and cruise hol­i­days can be done at any time of the year. So trav­ellers will save money cruis­ing in Dubai rather than go­ing to an­other coun­try. Not many peo­ple know that Dubai also of­fer cruis­ing op­tions and we are work­ing on im­prov­ing that,” Falasi said.

The road­show started with Ben­galuru and went on to Chennai, Mum­bai and New Delhi. Falasi said that each city saw about 250 peo­ple at­tend the event. “I can see a lot of in­ter­est from the travel agents for cruise pack­ages. This is en­cour­ag­ing and gives us a rea­son to come back to In­dia next year again for the third time. We plan to add more ci­ties next year, maybe Kolkata. Right now, we are study­ing how the de­mand is and from where,” he added.

There were three cruise liner com­pa­nies that had part­nered with Dubai Cruise Tourism for the road­show – Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional. Dubai re­cently opened the Emi­rate’s third cruise ter­mi­nal.

Af­ter this road­show, Falasi expects an in­crease of at least 20 per cent this year. “It also de­pends on how the agents will sell it. There are four-five-seven night pack­ages for Dubai cruises. We are also in the process of up­dat­ing our Dubai Tourism web­site with in­for­ma­tion on Dubai cruises and con­tacts of au­tho­rised agen­cies that of­fer cruise pack­ages. In­dia is an im­por­tant mar­ket for us with huge po­ten­tial,” he said. Dubai Cruise will be part of the next road­show or­gan­ised by Dubai Tourism in In­dia.

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