The Arabian Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi is eyeing a 59% growth in cruise passenger arrivals in the 2009/2010 season.
Forecasts by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which manages and the emirate's tourism industry and promotes the destination, point to some 199,113 arrivals in the season, which will run from the end of November to the beginning of May, compared to a passenger arrivals total of 125,200 last season
"The forecast is based on the 100% occupancy level achieved by the cruise ships using Abu Dhabi as a ‘port of call' last season," explained Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General, ADTA. "The increase is due to the inclusion of Abu Dhabi in Royal Caribbean International's weekly itinerary for its ‘Brilliance of the Seas,' which has a passenger capacity of 2,501 and the fact that Costa Cruises is to boost its service to the UAE capital by introducing larger, brand new vessels with increased passenger capacity."
Due to sail into Abu Dhabi next season are the 1,266 passenger capacity ‘Aida Vida' of Germany's Aida Cruises, and the recently commissioned ‘Costa Deliziosa' and ‘Costa Luminosa', both of which have a 2,828 passenger capacity in addition to Royal Caribbean's ‘Brilliance of the Seas.'
ADTA is planning to set up a hospitality tent to welcome the passengers as they disembark from the ships for day visits to the emirate.
Meanwhile, ADTA has commissioned a market study into the UAE capital's cruise potential.
"We are looking to establish the viability of Abu Dhabi as a home port for cruise vessels as opposed to its current status as a port-of-call," explained Ahmed Hussein. "We also want to better gauge whether we have future potential beyond the European fly-and-cruise market which we are currently serving.
"Cruise business delivers much greater economic impact to the destination and also provides it with an excellent opportunity to market itself to an influential audience which would be open to return visits."