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.
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.