Abu Dhabi has hit its tourism target for 2013 a month early, driven by growing awareness of the destination among global travellers.
The capital’s 149 hotels and hotel apartments took in 2.53 million guests in the first 11 months, according to Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) – a jump of 17 per cent on the same period last year. The hotels and hotel apartments sector reported a 3.14-night average length of stay, up 8 per cent.
During the year, 12 properties with almost 2,500 new rooms came on stream.
“There is more awareness about the destination now. And we didn’t focus on Abu Dhabi city alone but also on Western Region, which is close to the Gulf countries and the coastline, and Al Ain, which is a cultural destination,” said Mohammed Al Dhaheri the director of strategy and policy of TCA Abu Dhabi. “A forecast is difficult [on tourist numbers and hotel room rates] but we try to maintain a healthy balance.”
Next year, the agency plans to promote experiences from the cultural aspects of Saadiyat Island to the appeal of beaches and the attractions of Yas Island.
“The Abu Dhabi Government has made huge investments on infrastructure and it is time to showcase these,” Mr Al Dhaheri said.
Occupancy rate year to date is 70 per cent, up 9 per cent on 2012, and that generated Dh5 billion, up 11 per cent, in hotel revenues. Of this, food and beverage income contributed Dh1.9bn, a rise of 19 per cent.
The average room rate is running at Dh477.22, a slight decline of 1 per cent on the year.
The emirates has also caught on with the domestic travellers, with 865,966 guests travelling from within the UAE borders. That represents a rise of about 6 per cent over the year.
The Abu Dhabi properties last month reported a 26 per cent rise in the number of guests year on year as 260,810 guests checked in. November occupancy levels rose to 83 per cent and total revenues surged 19 per cent from the year-earlier month to Dh669 million.
The tourism authority attributed the rise to a series of high profile events in the capital such as the Grand Prix, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Fifa Under 17 World Cup and Abu Dhabi Art.
The length of stay also went up for November, with guests having spent 3.3 nights in the emirate.
India, followed by the United Kingdom, remained the top source markets. More than 157,000 guests from India visited the emirate this year, reporting a 26 per cent rise on 2012, and stayed on average 3.94 nights.
The number of British tourists, at a little more than 147,800 arrivals for the year, represented a 14 per cent increase. They were followed by the visitors from Germany with 107,264 arrivals.
There is potential for growth, too, as Etihad Airways goes ahead with route expansion. “With more air access uplift promised in 2014, with Etihad Airways planning daily flights from Rome, Zurich, Perth, Medina, Los Angeles and Jaipur, four weekly flights from Yerevan in Armenia and a thrice-weekly flight from Dallas Fort Worth, new business opportunities abound,” said Jasem Al Darmaki, the deputy director general of TCA Abu Dhabi.