Abu Dhabi reported record numbers of cruise ship passengers during last year’s cruise season, reports Arabian Business.
The emirate, which has the Arabian Gulf’s only dedicated cruise beach stopover at Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach, reported 228,000 passengers from over 100 ship calls during the season, which runs from October until June. The figures are an increase on the 94 ship calls and 200,000 passengers reported during the previous season.
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which is responsible for developing the industry in the emirate along with its partners, expects annual growth rate to exceed more than 10% following a highly successful 2015-16 season and a strong start to the new season, which will be the longest Abu Dhabi has held.
The rise in projected passenger figures, currently estimated at 250,000 passengers this season, to reach 450,000 by 2020 and 808,000 by 2025, is due to a series of initiatives to encourage the emirate to develop its cruise sector.
The cruise industry has been identified as a primary niche product in the emirate’s economic diversification.
Towards the end of 2016, Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach was opened in the Western Region and is now the Gulf region’s only dedicated desert island cruise stopover, which will attract more than 60,000 passengers in its first season.
TCA Abu Dhabi director general, HE Saif Saeed Ghobash said: “Our strategic intervention is strengthening the cruise sector’s influence on the tourism economy and contributing to the emirate’s economic diversification”.
“This is now Abu Dhabi’s longest ever cruise season where we will welcome 139 ship calls to Abu Dhabi and 39 to Sir Bani Yas Island,” he added.
Further increases in passenger numbers are expected in upcoming cruise seasons as Abu Dhabi is poised to become the regional hub for ‘Halal Cruising’.
TCA Abu Dhabi is working on new initiatives to encourage cruise lines to cater for the needs of Muslim travellers and stimulate regional and home-grown demand, including a partnership with HalalBooking.com.