Abu Dhabi sets its sights on 8.5 million visitors by 2021
A record 4.9 million people stayed in Abu Dhabi’s 162 hotels and hotel apartments during 2017, meaning the Emirate recorded a 9.8% year-onyear rise. ITB Berlin News spoke to Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director Promotions and Overseas Offices at DCT Abu Dhabi, to find out more about how the Emirate’s tourism industry performed in 2017.
Figures released by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT) for its hospitality sector reveal that the number of guests staying in Abu Dhabi city during the year rose by 10.3% to reach 4.3 million across its 131 hotels and hotel apartments, which provide 26,821 rooms. The Al Ain Region recorded a 5.5% increase to 450,328 guests across its 20 hotels and the Al Dhafra Region rose 8.2% to number 130,180 guests at its 11 hotels and hotel apartments.
The Emirate benefited throughout the year from a packed calendar of events, with the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi on November 11 being the highlight and garnering worldwide headlines. In June 2018, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi theme park will open on Yas Island, which will join already established destinations such as Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
GUESTS FROM CHINA SURGED YEAR-ON-YEAR BY 60%
How is your business capitalising on the Emirate’s cruise tourism? What other tourism segments are you focusing on?
The Department estimates an expected growth of 5% in the number of cruise passengers for the season 2017/2018 from the previous year’s figure of 345,961. With five maiden calls scheduled in Abu Dhabi, the Emirate is at the forefront of the Arabian Gulf’s ambitions to become the leading international alternative winter sun cruise destination. The rise in projected passenger figures is due to a series of initiatives to encourage the Emirate to develop its cruise sector.
With the dramatic surge in hotel guests recently, how are you ensuring rising numbers as well as repeat guests?
Abu Dhabi’s unique cultural archetypes, combined with diverse natural landscapes, cultural and historic sites, dynamic familyleisure entertainment and ambitious business opportunities, will continue to stimulate visitation and help the Emirate grow by 11% per annum to achieve 8.5 million visitors by 2021. We will continue to evolve and lead Abu Dhabi’s tourism proposition to achieve new levels of excellence; implementing new initiatives and working closely with the private sector, while striving to achieve new record numbers of hotel guests.
Which feeder markets will you be focusing on for this year? How will you be attracting them?
Throughout 2017, key overseas markets continued to perform well with guests from China surging yearon- year by 60% to number more than 372,000 to be Abu Dhabi’s largest overseas source market, with the numbers swelled by the easing of visa restrictions and Chinese visitors now receiving visas on entry in the UAE. India is the second largest international source market with more than 360,000 guests recorded during the 12 months, an increase of 11%. The United Kingdom remains the largest European source market, registering a 13% rise to more than 270,000. Domestic tourism from within the UAE increased 2.6% to number slightly over 1.5 million hotel guests. The introduction of the new visa-on-arrival process for all nationalities travelling through Abu Dhabi, specifically the issuing of new 96-hour transit visas, is already paying dividends.
What projects are you aware of in Abu Dhabi at the moment, which are expected to boost the Emirate’s tourism credentials?
The opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi towards the end of last year was a monumental event, not only for the Emirate, but the country and the region. Other museums including the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Zayed National Museum will follow on Saadiyat Island to complement the Cultural District. Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi will be a huge draw for visitors to Yas Island and Abu Dhabi while a number of new hotels are scheduled to be developed including the Grand Hyatt, Jumeirah Saadiyat and the Abu Dhabi Edition hotels.
Photo: Mubarak Al Nuaimi – Director Promotions and Overseas Offices, DCT Abu Dhabi