A record number of guests checked into Abu Dhabi’s hotels in October as the capital reaped the benefit of promotions in key markets such as India and China.
In October alone there was a 29 per cent rise year-on-year in guest numbers, bringing growth for the year to date to 16 per cent over the same period last year.
Looking ahead, the capital expects the growth to continue as preparations for Expo 2020 start spinning off benefits.
In the first 10 months of this year, more than 2.2 million guests checked into Abu Dhabi’s 148 hotels and hotel apartments, with Indians, followed by visitors from the United Kingdom and Germany, leading the way, according to Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi). The city expects to receive 2.5 million guests by the end of the year.
UAE residents, too, are visiting the capital in greater numbers and are staying longer. In the first 10 months 778,113 domestic guests checked in, a rise of 4 per cent over the same period last year, and the average length of stay rose 23 per cent to 2.3 nights.
Occupancy rates also rose for the 10-month period by 9 per cent to touch 69 per cent, as hotels and hotel apartment owners collected Dh4.3 billion, a jump of 19 per cent year -on-year.
Average room rates for the year to date, however, slipped marginally by 1 per cent to Dh429.
“It’s all about demand and supply, and we want to balance demand and supply, and maintain a reasonable occupancy and room rate that can be sustained over a long time,” said Mohammed Al Dhaheri, the director of strategy and policy, TCA Abu Dhabi.
“The Expo 2020 will definitely enhance all tourism aspects because it will be held over a long period of time, will be held in close proximity to Abu Dhabi, and [have an effect] on the required hotel rooms. It also provides a potential to grow steadily and achieve our targets.”
The emirate has 26 hotels in the pipeline, with more than 7,000 rooms, according to the latest data available from STR Global.
Mr Al Dhaheri attributed the rising tourist numbers in the emirate to promotion packages.
TCA Abu Dhabi has been developing packages for key markets with the help of its international offices and strategic partners, such as Etihad, he said. One of its travel partners is London-listed TUI Travel, which is targeting Indians and offering a five-night package in Dubai along with Yas Island sights such as Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and a shopping tour in Abu Dhabi for 58,490 rupees (Dh3,446) per person. The package includes a two-night stay in Abu Dhabi.
TCA Abu Dhabi has 10 international offices, including in the United States, England, Germany, India, China, Russia, Australia, Italy and France.
Next year, Mr Al Dhaheri said TCA Abu Dhabi would continue to focus on existing markets such as India and China, and new markets such as Africa and South America.
India remained the largest source market for Abu Dhabi for the first 10 months with 140,786 visitors from the country, a rise of 26 per cent, who spent nearly four nights in the emirate.
This month, TCA Abu Dhabi will go on a roadshow in India, taking in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and for the first time, Ahmedabad.
While 130,038 Britons stayed in the emirate through October, with numbers up by 15 per cent, almost 96,000 people visited from Germany, with figures up by a quarter.
“We have more expectations from the German market given the fact that Etihad will, from February, increase its daily service from Munich to Abu Dhabi to a double-daily frequency,” said Mubarak Al Muhairi, the director general of TCA Abu Dhabi.
For October alone, the emirate reported a 29 per cent increase in arrivals, to a record 288,268 guests, although guest nights dipped by 31 per cent. Occupancy rates, however, rose to 79 per cent, up by 10 per cent. Hotel revenues touched Dh578.4 million, which was 28 per cent more than last October.
The average room rates at hotels also picked up by 7 per cent, touching Dh507 in October. The rise came even though the capital had, at the end of the month, 12 more hotels with an additional 2,187 rooms than last year.