A record number of guests checked into Abu Dhabi's hotels in the first seven months of the year as the number of Indian tourists visiting the emirate soared.
Total guest arrivals topped 1.5 million - an increase of 10 per cent on the same period last year, while the number of Indian tourists staying in Abu Dhabi's hotels and hotel apartments increased by 21 per cent, according to figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA).
In all, visitors to Abu Dhabi accounted for almost 4.8 million guest nights, a rise of 23 per cent on last year's tally, with guests staying about three nights on average. The figure represented an increase of 12 per cent, driving occupancy to 68 per cent.
So far this year hotel revenues were up to almost Dh3 billion, a rise of 16 per cent.
"These results make encouraging reading when viewed against the fact that hotel inventory in the emirate has grown from 137 properties and 23,613 rooms in 2012 to 146 offering 25,300 rooms this year," said Mubarak Al Muhairi, the TCA's director general.
It was not all good news, however. Guest arrivals in July dipped by 4 per cent to 170,887 and occupancy fell by 2 per cent to 54 per cent.
"Though we received fewer guests last July than in July 2012, which we anticipated with the onset of Ramadan, those who did check into Abu Dhabi stayed longer, which is a good sign that we are providing additional attractions to encourage expanded length of stay," said Mr Al Muhairi. "Interestingly Al Gharbia, our Western Region, was the exception to the July trend," he added. "It increased guest arrivals by 3 per cent to 4,986 with guest nights moving up 22 per cent to 21,759 and average length of stay up by 19 per cent to 4.36.
This could be due to the fact that accommodation in Al Gharbia is a largely resort-oriented with significant uptake from the international market for resorts in the Liwa Desert and on Sir Bani Yas Island."
More than 92,500 tourists from India checked into the emirate's hotels in the first seven months, making India Abu Dhabi's largest source market. Together, Indian guests stayed 382,913 nights, a 37 per cent rise on last year.
The rise in the number of Indian tourists to Abu Dhabi may come as a surprise to some, particularly given the weakness in the rupee. But travel analysts said that India has always been an important market for the UAE and many in the country continue to be wealthy, despite the decline in the currency.
"If you look at the actual numbers of India as a feeder market, there are 126,000 US dollar millionaires living in India. There are 350 million people who are in the middle classes," said Gaurav Sinha, the founder and chief executive of Insignia. "If you look at that you will find a level of buoyancy in the Indian market is not necessarily going to disappear."
Mohammed Al Dhahri, the director of policy and strategy at TCA, said the emirate offered numerous draws for visitors.
"You are coming for business, you are coming for leisure and also you are coming to visit friends and family," he said.
The United Kingdom fell to the emirate's second largest overseas source market, with 86,284 guests so far this year, a rise of 8 per cent on last year's figures. British visitors accounted for more than 406,400 guest nights, which was up by a fifth on figures last year.
Germany ranked third with 67,968 hotel guests, a 25 per cent increase on last year, accounting for 322,128 guests nights, which was up by a third.
Mr Al Muhairi was optimistic for the future.
"With a final quarter ahead of us which is packed with major events including the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi Art, the Seatrade Middle East Forum and the Al Ain Aerobatic Show, we could see the best results of the year yet to come," he said.