Abu Dhabi tourist arrivals to pass 4 million as new cruise terminal opens

Tourist arrivals in the capital will exceed 4 million for the first time this year, a top official from Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority said.

“We have stretched our target and we now expect 4.1 million tourists this year,” Sultan Al Dhaheri, the acting executive director at TCA Abu Dhabi, said on the sidelines of the opening of the new cruise terminal at Zayed Port.

He said that the growth in the capital’s tourism sector in the next five years will be driven by infrastructure developments such as the cruise terminal, the Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi airport and the completion of cultural attractions, including the Louvre and Guggenheim museums.


In June, TCA Abu Dhabi had raised the initial target for 2015 from 3.49 million to 3.9 million, as guest numbers surged by 20 per cent in the first four months of the year, with key source markets such as the UK, India, China and Germany contributing to the bulk of the increase.

Mr Dhaheri said that visitors from Russia to the capital, however, had witnessed a small decline this year, without providing a figure.

According to figures from TCA Abu Dhabi, Russian tourists to the capital in the first half fell by 10 per cent mainly because of a sharp fall in the value of the rouble against the dollar and economic troubles.

He declined to comment on next year’s target for overall visitor arrivals. However, Abu Dhabi Ports did reveal further details on the growth of the cruise sector.

“Cruise passengers will increase by 15,000 in the 2016-17 season,” Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Ports, said. That works out to a year on year increase of more than7 per cent as figures from TCA Abu Dhabi and the ports operator show that about 205,000 cruise visitors from 112 ship visits were expected this season.

The cruise season starts in September and runs through May.

Next season, 220,000 cruise passengers are expected in the capital from 117 ships expected to call on Zayed Port.

The ports operator expects that figure to reach 300,000 passengers from 130 ship calls in 2019-20.

Next year, Celebrity Cruises will join MSC Cruises in using Zayed Port as its home port and seven ships will visit Abu Dhabi for the first time.

siyer@thenational.ae

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