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Thu 9 Jul 2009 05:14 PM

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Cruise tourism to grow 60% - ADTA

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority expects cruise passengers visiting the emirate to double in the next holiday season.

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) is expecting cruise passengers visiting the emirate to double in the next holiday season.

On Thursday, the organisation revealed its forecast for 199,113 people on luxury liners to step foot in the UAE’s capital between November and early May. Last season, some 125,200 people made the trip, according to ADTA figures.

"The forecast is based on the 100% occupancy level achieved by the cruise ships using Abu Dhabi as a 'port of call' last season," said Ahmed Hussein, ADTA’s deputy director general.

Germany’s Aida Vida cruise liner, operated by Aida Cruises, is expected to carry 1,266 passenger passengers, while the Costa Deliziosa and Costa Luminosa are also bound for Abu Dhabi. Both have a capacity of 2,828 passengers.

Passenger numbers to the emirate will be further swelled by Royal Caribbean’s ‘Brilliance of the Seas’.

Hussein said Abu Dhabi’s growing popularity among cruise ship operators would contribute to rising numbers next season.

“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."

The authority reached its projection after commissioning a study into Abu Dhabi’s cruise market 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," Ahmed Hussein said. "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."

A hospitality tent to welcome passengers visiting Abu Dhabi for the day will be set up, ADTA said.

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