Skift Take

It is the latest development in trying to promote multi-country holidays in the Gulf.

Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Oman have signed a pact to promote cruises across all four destinations. The Cruise Arabia Alliance was forged at this week’s ITB Berlin travel trade show and is the latest development in trying to promote multi-country holidays in the Gulf.

Together, they will promote the area as a go-to cruise spot and work on bringing more cruise liners to the region.

“This alliance will result in more cruise operators seeking to anchor in Dubai, capitalizing on its strategic location and promoting the city’s diverse offerings, world-class infrastructure and superior air and sea connectivity,” said Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism.

Saleh Mohammed Al Geziry, director general of culture and tourism in Abu Dhabi added: “We are collectively committed to championing cruise tourism reflecting our firm belief in the power of partnerships.”

Saudi Arabia is missing from the pact, but the kingdom has its own cruise sector, and it is investing a lot in it.

Major cruise operator MSC already offers packages that begin in Dubai and go to Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the other emirates. This new deal does more to bring tourism chiefs from each destination together.

Unified Travel in the Gulf

In October 2023, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman agreed to form a ‘GCC zone‘ for visas, a similar situation as the Schengen Zone across the EU. This visa was first mentioned in May 2023 at a conference in Dubai, where the countries’ ministers shared their hopes to unite the GCC so tourists would consider cross-country travel like they do in Europe.

This new visa comes under the banner of the “Gulf Strategy for Tourism 2023-2030,” which ministers also said is in the works. The meeting also looked into the establishment of a GCC Tourism Statistics Platform.

It will either roll out this year or next and has been universally praised by tourism leaders.

“This new Schengen-style visa is huge for [GCC] tourism and Ras Al Khaimah will see a huge benefit,” said Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority CEO Raki Phillips at the Skift Global Forum East 2023.

“There is nothing more important than a collaborative approach. We should compete collaboratively. In this part of the world, we want to be collaborative. That could mean visa processing, hotels, and airlines.” 

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Tags: abu dhabi, cruises, dubai, Tourism news, travel news

Photo credit: A cruise liner in Dubai. Dubai Tourism

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