Middle East urged to ease travel restrictions to boost superyacht tourism
by Sophia Heath
Industry experts are urging Middle East governments to relax travel restrictions in order to boost the yachting industry in the region.
Tourism industry figures have been campaigning for some time for an “open skies” visa policy in the area. It is hoped legislation could be changed to allow visitors to Gulf Cooperation Council states — which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — to enter any of them under a single visa.
Mohammed Hussein Al Shaali, chairman of the UAE-based yacht builder, Gulf Craft has urged the government to consider taking the step to help to support the superyacht industry in the region.
“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.”
As well as relaxing travel restrictions Al Shaali also reiterated the importance of developing an infrastructure to support the superyacht market.
“To develop the yachting industry, you need to develop the wider industrial base,” Al Shaali said. “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. Earlier this year the UAE builder Gulf Graft launched its largest yacht ever — the 47 meter Majesty Yachts 155.