European visitors are flocking to Abu Dhabi this year - with numbers up sharply after a significant decline last year.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority said the number of hotel guests from France increased by a third in the first five months of this year compared with a year earlier, and the numbers for Italy were up 20 per cent, for the UK 17 per cent, Germany 15 per cent and Ireland 9 per cent.
The authority attributed the increases to the growing number of attractions in the emirate and improved conditions in Europe.
The tourism authority is working hard to draw in more visitors from Europe, with advertising campaigns and attendances at trade shows. In March, the authority linked with TUI, one of Europe's largest travel groups, to promote Abu Dhabi in Germany, which spends more on international tourism than any other country.
Data released by the Statistics Centre-Abu Dhabi show a 2.67 per cent decline in the number of hotel guests from Europe - to 316,701 last year from 325,392 the year before, despite increases in the number of guests from all other regions. Hotel guests from the UAE, with a large number of project workers staying in the emirate, last year accounted for more than 40 per cent of the total number of guests.
Tourism is at the top of the Abu Dhabi Government's agenda to diversify both the economy and sources of income.
Last year, there was a more than 17 per cent increase from 2009 in the number of hotel guests in Abu Dhabi, to 1.81 million from 1.54 million.
There was a more than 25 per cent increase in the number of guests from Asia, more than a 13 per cent increase to 722,777 in the number of guests from within the UAE and a 16 per cent increase from other GCC countries.
Total revenue last year declined fractionally to Dh4.22bn (US$1.15bn) from Dh4.24bn in 2009.
More than a third of guests stayed in five-star hotels last year, official data showed.
Meanwhile, 25.2 per cent of all guests stayed in hotels classified as three-star of lower, while 20.7 per cent stayed in four-star hotels, with 19.8 per cent in hotel apartments.