Abu Dhabi is preparing to engage with tour operators from across the Gulf at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the Middle East's largest trade-travel show, with the aim of boosting the number of holidaymakers visiting the emirate.
Eighty-six companies including hotels and attractions that operate in Abu Dhabi will be present at the show, running from tomorrow until Thursday.
"The ATM is one of the most important business [events] for us as all the GCC comes to participate," according to Mubarak Al Nuaimi, the director of promotion and overseas offices at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority. "The hotels are doing good packages for the Formula One this year; plus we have new hotels and a new water park. It's time to show people how they can prepare their packages for summer time. Especially now before the school holidays start."
Abu Dhabi exceeded its target of 2.3 million hotel guests last year. This year's target is 2.5 million. In the first quarter of this year there were 247,800 tourists from the GCC - 7,000 fewer than a year earlier. However, the tourists that have come to visit Abu Dhabi are spending more time in the emirate on each trip, according to Mr Al Nuaimi. Abu Dhabi is aiming for 3.2 million tourists by 2015-16.
Until now, Abu Dhabi has attracted more business tourists than holidaymakers but is attempting to balance this ratio by opening tourist draws such as shopping malls, nature parks, cultural attractions and heritage sites as well as adding to the number of resorts.
The variety of indoor amusements means there are entertainment options even during the capital's searingly hot summer months.
The GCC is a key market for the Thai hospitality group Anantara, said David Garner, its regional director of sales and marketing. Anantara will showcase its properties on Sir Bani Yas Island at the travel exhibition.
"We receive about 50 per cent of our total business revenue from within the UAE and GCC markets, so it is our most valuable market. We expect strong support again in 2013," said Mr Garner.
"We are looking for meeting/corporate groups for weekdays...to increase this segment by about 25 per cent ... We are also looking to increase incentive booking by about 50 per cent."
As well as the Yas Waterworld water park, which opened in December, one of the capital's big cultural attractions this summer is the Birth of a Museum show at Manarat Al Saadiyat. This is a large-scale exhibition of part of the collection of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which is scheduled to open in 2015.
"Abu Dhabi is ready to go out and show how Abu Dhabi is now one of the top tourist destinations," Mr Al Nuaimi said.
Meanwhile, National Corporation for Tourism and Hotels (NCTH) said yesterday that it would double capacity at its Western Region properties.
The project to build 200 new rooms at its Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort and Dhafra Beach Hotel complex includes the construction of three restaurants, a swimming pool and spa and it is expected to be completed in the third quarter of next year, said Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development and chairman of NCTH.
NCTH will also build two hotels in the Western Region in the next two years, he said.