Abu Dhabi expects 59% growth in cruise arrivals


Abu Dhabi’s tourism authority is eyeing up the nation’s cruise industry as a key way to bolster tourism earnings in the coming season.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has forecast that in the 2009/2010 season, which will run from the end of November to the beginning of May, will see a 59 per cent growth in cruise arrivals.

According to the body, there will be 199,113 arrivals in the city during the season, compared with 125,200 last season.

“The forecast is based on the 100 per cent occupancy level achieved by the cruise ships using Abu Dhabi as a ‘port of call’ last season,” said Ahmed Hussein, deputy director general of ADTA.

“The increase is due to the inclusion of Abu Dhabi in Royal Caribbean International’s weekly itinerary for its Brilliance of the Seas.”

With a passenger capacity of 2,501 Brilliance of the Seas combined with Costa Cruises’ decision to boost its service to Abu Dhabi will help the city achieve its targets, the tourism expert explained.

Furthermore, next season the Aida Vida of Germany’s Aida Cruises is set to dock in Abu Dhabi, with a passenger capacity of 1,266, along with the Costa Deliziosa and Costa Luminosa, which combined can hold 2,828 holidaymakers.

Earlier this month, the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) revealed that the cruise industry has not suffered during the credit crunch in the way other sectors of the tourism industry have.

According to the PSA, in the UK there was an 11 per cent yearly growth in custom for the second consecutive year during 2008.

Furthermore, while the group believes that 2009 will see a flattening out, they remain positive about further progress from 2010 onwards.

These figures could be encouraging for ADTA and the Abu Dhabi tourism officials looking towards the cruise industry to maintain foreign arrival levels.

Penny Guy, PR director at the PSA, said: “Cruising has been resilient and has held its own during this downturn in the economy in comparison with many other travel sectors. It continues to remain popular, and I think that’s driven by the value for money that cruising offers.”

He explained that the all-inclusive nature of such holidays meant that travellers can budget accurately for their travel, accommodation and food all in one go – an appealing prospect in a recessionary environment.