(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (ADTCA) sees these passengers as future tourists for the emirate. Mohammed Al Dhaheri, strategy and policy director at ADTCA, highlighted the "huge growth potential" that the cruising industry has for tourism during Wednesday's conference of the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum, which took place in the capital on December 9-12.
"Today we have the chance to openly discuss the growth opportunities which clearly exist for this region's cruise industry. We also have the chance to be forthright in identifying the challenges which could hinder this growth, and then address them," said Al Dhaheri.
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Some of the challenges are the ability of all GCC countries working together to develop a cruising through Arabia product, but also to make cruising in the region highly appealing to cruise companies and their passengers. For several years now, the ADTCA has been working with the Abu Dhabi Ports Company, having a special cruise terminal in Zayed Port here. The improvised facility includes a tent offering free Abu Dhabi brochures, guide books and maps to passengers, as well as souvenirs and, more importantly, day trips such as desert safari or city tours that include the Shaikh Zayed mosque, Yas island entertainment parks, Emirates Palace and even tours of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital. Every cruise liner is welcomed with traditional live Emirati folklore, as well as Arabic sweets, dates and coffee meant to entice passengers to return for a full holiday in Abu Dhabi. ADTCA has also produced self-touring itineraries, in five languages, for cruise guests visiting Abu Dhabi.
"In Abu Dhabi we are taking our cruise ambitions seriously. We are committed to building a permanent cruise terminal and to introduce a stop-over destination on Delma Island in our Western Region and we have other plans in the pipeline too," said Al Dhaheri.
To this end, ADTCA has recently set up a dedicated development committee specifically for the cruise industry, which so far includes representatives of the port, Abu Dhabi Terminals, immigration, Etihad Airways and the Department of Transport, with plans to add private sector representatives as well.
ADTCA has also begun working with Fujairah, Dubai and Muscat to develop the sector in a new Cruise Arabia Alliance approach. The young alliance is now in the process of touring the region to raise awareness among travel companies, media and consumers about the potential and advantages of cruising.