People, Travel

Khasab-Qeshm Ferry Service

Khasab-Qeshm Ferry Service  Khasab-Qeshm Ferry Service

Travelers from Oman can soon take a visa-free ferry run to Iran as the first ferry service linking both countries will run from Khasab in Oman to Qeshm Island.

The ferry is expected to be launch in the first quarter of 2016, possibly later this month, the Persian daily Jam-e-Jam reported.

The cruise ship can carry 120 passengers and 20 cars, and will run three days a week. A round trip lasts three hours.

According to an agreement signed between Oman’s National Ferries Company (NFC) and officials at the Qeshm Free Zone Organization, if the Khasab-Qeshm route proves to be a success, ferries on other routes like Shinas-Qeshm, Sohar-Qeshm and Muscat-Qeshm could also be launched.

Qeshm officials believe that the ferry will have a significant impact on the island’s economy and tourism.

“The main aim of the project is to develop stronger commercial and tourism ties between the two states, and we’re sure it will boost the economic development of the region,” said Masoud Karbaschi, tourism deputy at QFZO.

This short and safe trip together with Qeshm Island’s visa regulations will also help attract tourists visiting Oman and the UAE, he added.

According to the rules since September 2014, foreign nationals who intend to visit Qeshm Island need not obtain an entry visa. Upon arrival in Qeshm, foreign visitors receive two-week visas which can be extended for up to three months, and in special cases, even six months. Foreign nationals who intend to travel to the mainland can submit their application to the Foreign Ministry office on the island.

 Viable Route

Mehdi al-Abduwani, chief executive NFC, told Muscat Daily that based on a route study, Qeshm was the most viable option to start the service because of the journey’s shorter duration (close to 44 nautical miles).

The agreement also gives NFC exemption from port duty and berthing charges, including passenger and vehicle levy for the first six months.

NFC conducted a trial run of its fast ferry service from Muscat to Chabahar on Monday. Chabahar is a port city located south of Sistan-Baluchestan Province, easily accessible via the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf.

NFC is keen to explore the viability of more ports in the Persian Gulf sultanate and Iran for ferry services.

“As a trial run would suggest, we are considering the option of Muscat-Chabahar route, which is about 155 nautical miles,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed NFC official as saying.

Khasab is a city in an exclave of Oman bordering the UAE. It is the local capital of Musandam Peninsula, separated from the rest of Oman by the UAE and extends out into the Strait of Hormuz. Qeshm is a southern Iranian island in the Strait of Hormuz.