x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Abu Dhabi draws more international tourists

African and Asian tourists flocked to Abu Dhabi emirate during the first few months of 2013, packing the emirate's five-star hotels as attractions including Yas Waterworld lured large numbers of new visitors.

African and Asian tourists flocked to Abu Dhabi during the first months of this year, packing the emirate's five-star hotels as new attractions including Yas Waterworld lured large numbers of visitors.

Total revenues of Abu Dhabi hotels rose to Dh1.4 billion during the first quarter, an increase of 15.1 per cent compared with the corresponding period a year earlier, according to data released by Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi (Scad).

The hotel industry welcomed 631,400 guests during the first quarter, an increase of 6.1 per cent compared with the same period a year earlier, according to a new report from the centre.

UAE nationals were the biggest segment of the tourist base, accounting for 32.1 per cent of the total, although numbers fell by 4.8 per cent.

"Hotel establishments and high-quality hospitality services are considered instrumental in boosting the tourist appeal of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, which adopts top-class hotel standards to ensure continued development of this sector," Scad's report said.

It is the first time the emirate has produced quarterly statistics for its hotel industry.

Europeans were the second-biggest visitor grouping, accounting for 21.6 per cent of the total.

But the data shows that the fastest-growing customer segment were visitors from African countries, up by 24.3 per cent, while numbers of tourists from Asian nations rose 19 per cent.

Abu Dhabi has attempted to build bridges with China to tap into a lucrative source of tourist revenue ever since Asia's biggest economy permitted travel agencies to send tour groups to the UAE in 2009.

Occupancy rates totalled 73.5 per cent during the first quarter, Scad's data shows.

Revenues from hotel rooms rose by 18.2 per cent during the period, while sales of food and beverages rose 12.5 per cent.

The capital has embarked on a flurry of luxury hotel building, with new hotels including Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, which opened in April, and the Hilton Capital Grand, formerly owned by Rocco Forte.

In January, Abu Dhabi also opened the doors of Yas Waterworld, the Dh900 million theme park, which expects to draw about 700,000 visitors this year.

But margins have fallen for some hotel operators in the capital.

Abu Dhabi National Hotels, which operates hotels in the emirate including Le Méridien and Hilton Abu Dhabi, reported an 11 per cent rise in first-quarter revenue to Dh317.9m compared with the first quarter of last year.

However, the company also reported a 2.6 per cent decline in net profits to Dh64m during this year's first quarter, reflecting higher general and administrative expenses.

 

ghunter@thenational.ae