The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) is launching a new tourism business licensing initiative to support and accelerate the growth of the emirate’s tourism industry. 

A revised fee structure is being introduced, capped at AED 1,000 annually, and applicable to tourism business licenses, effective January.  This will be welcome news to existing license holders who currently pay varying fee amounts, depending on the level of business activity, and will be a significant boost given the challenges the sector has faced over the past 18 months. 

The license fee cap aims to benefit existing businesses in the emirate and encourage new investors to start ventures, elevating Abu Dhabi's competitiveness as a leading destination regionally and internationally with its dynamic leisure, culture and MICE tourism sectors. The initiative comes as part of the Abu Dhabi Government’s wider strategic plans to further develop the sectors in the UAE capital and cement its position as a preferred destination for travellers and for tourism investment.

The new business license offers an amended fixed-fee structure, with the blanket costs covering fees payable to several Abu Dhabi Government entities, including Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, the Department of Municipalities and Transport, Abu Dhabi Chamber membership fees and the Certificate of Conformity issuance fee. It also covers Abu Dhabi's regulation fees, with the amount adjustable depending on the type of business applying. Overall, the changes represent an almost 90% reduction in total  license fee costs.

Hamad Mohammed Saeed Alsudain, Licensing & Regulatory Compliance Director at DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “The new licensing fee structure is a tangible demonstration of our unwavering support of the tourism sector, and will benefit those wishing to open, continue or expand their tourism business across Abu Dhabi. Regardless of type of organisation or size, applicants can feel confident that we are partners and focused on their growth. This initiative will enhance the competitiveness of the business environment and attract increased investment, strengthening Abu Dhabi's position as a global tourism, cultural and entertainment destination.”

During an unprecedented 18 months of restricted travel, leisure and event activities, many tourism industry businesses faced financial hardships and difficult decisions when renewing their business activity in the emirate.

The introduction of a fixed fee for all sectors offers transparency, reduces administration challenges for investors, and supports the efforts of the governing departments to create a thriving business environment for the private sector, with particular focus on small- and medium-sized businesses.