An eye-catching purple Etihad Airways plane will be calling at airports around the world in an effort to boost the number of tourists to the emirate.
The aircraft, unveiled in the capital yesterday, is part of a new global marketing campaign called Essential Abu Dhabi, which is intended to increase the emirate's profile worldwide as it aims to attract 2 million hotel guests this year, Etihad and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority said.
"For the first time, all the major tourism operators in the emirate have come together under one showcase umbrella to promote the very best of the UAE's capital and what it has to offer," said Peter Baumgartner, the chief commercial officer for Etihad. "Travel and tourism is of critical importance to any growing economy. If you look in our immediate catchment area of a few hours' flying time, we are reaching hundreds and hundreds of millions of new air travellers in growing economies in the Indian subcontinent and a bit further on, China and the Asian powerhouse economies."
Essential Abu Dhabi gives passengers flying with Etihad the opportunity to take advantage of offers across hotels, restaurants and attractions in Abu Dhabi. Etihad declined to disclose how much the marketing campaign would cost.
The newly liveried Airbus 330-300 Visit Abu Dhabi 2011 promotional aircraft "will ultimately travel to places such as London, Paris, Geneva and Frankfurt as part of a global push to take this message across the world", said Mr Baumgartner.
Abu Dhabi last year attracted 1.81 million hotel guests. For this year, it is aiming for tourism to contribute 11.1 per cent to the emirate's overall non-oil GDP, up by about 0.4 per cent from last year. A further 4,000 hotel rooms are expected to open in Abu Dhabi this year, up from 18,844 rooms now.
Investments in tourism infrastructure in the capital include attractions such as the Guggenheim and the Louvre museums, which are under development on Saadiyat Island. Sporting events and exhibition facilities are already attracting more visitors to the capital, Mr Baumgartner said.
"Of course, this programme has been made possible by a much enhanced and wider range of products, activities and interests that have come online in recent times," said Lawrence Franklin, the director of strategy and policy at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. "The authority is also working on a major international consumer … campaign and programme, which we hope will spur bookings for the destination.
"The mechanics will be unveiled within a few months. We are acutely aware that tactical initiatives to promote conversion to travel will become the order of the day as people become increasingly aware of our destination and what we have to offer."