Published: Monday, 06 July 2015

UAE-based yacht and boat builder Gulf Craft urges Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to relax sea travel regulations to increase tourism.

Gulf Crafts Urges Gcc Countries To Relax Restrictions

(Gulf Craft Chairman Mohammed Hussein Al Shaali)

“Middle East governments should consider easing restrictions on travelling between states to boost the region’s tourism industry and support the fast-developing yachting and cruise market,” says Gulf Craft Chairman Mohammed Hussein Al Shaali.

Dubai received more than 500,000 cruise visitors last year – compared with just 10,000 in 1998.

Gulf Crafts Urges Gcc Countries To Relax Restrictions 1

(Gulf Craft at Dubai International Boat Show 2015) 

The UAE market has increased due to changes in regulations last year that allow cruise tourists to get a multiple-entry visa for all UAE ports in their itinerary. Regional tourism industry members have long campaigned for a European Schengen-style system that would allow visitors to GCC states to enter any of them under a single visa.

“The yachting and cruising tourism market is very profitable and beneficial to the wider economy so regional governments should look at supporting it through easier regulations,” said Al Shaali. “At the moment the procedures for moving across the region are very complicated and this is a significant challenge for growing the industry.”

Gulf Crafts Urges Gcc Countries To Relax Restrictions 2 

(Gulf Craft Majesty 122) 

While interest in yacht-ownership is rising in the UAE and across the GCC, there is a need for businesses to provide related products and services to support the sector.

“To develop the yachting industry, you need to develop the wider industrial base,” says Al Shaali. “Other factors like real-estate availability and facilities play their part, but the main issue is having the industry and technology in place to support development.”

The UAE is ranked among the top 10 yacht building nations, with Gulf Craft leading the yacht-building industry both regionally and globally.