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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Abu Dhabi first-quarter hotel guests surge 10.9% as Chinese visitors descend on capital 

Emirates hosts 1.2 million hotel guests in the three-month period, mainly from China, India and the UK

Visitors at the Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Tourism in the capital is surging. Christopher Pike / The National
Visitors at the Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. Tourism in the capital is surging. Christopher Pike / The National

Abu Dhabi recorded an increase in the number of hotel guests in the first quarter of the year, boosted by tourists from China, India and the UK, as the emirate seeks to diversify its economy and invest in new tourism offerings.

The emirate hosted 1.2 million hotel guests from January to March, up 10.9 per cent from the same period last year, across its 163 properties, the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT) said on Saturday. In March, the number of international hotel guests rose 12.3 per cent from the same month a year ago, with visitors from Germany and the US growing in double-digits.

"Our progress in attracting more people to explore the emirate as a visitor destination is testament to our continuous investment into Abu Dhabi’s diverse range of attractions and year-round programme of events,” said Saif Saeed Ghobash, undersecretary at the Department of Culture and Tourism.

Abu Dhabi has a target of attracting 8.5 million tourists a year by 2021. The capital is vying to grow its travel and tourism industry despite regional headwinds and is ramping up efforts to promote itself as a culture and heritage destination. With the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the only regional presence of France’s world famous museum, the emirate has widened its art and culture offering. It expects 5.5 million hotel guests this year, up from about 5 million in 2017.

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In the first quarter of this year, China was the leading international market for hotel guests after the UAE introduced visas on arrival for Chinese tourists in 2016. More than 127,000 Chinese visitors stayed in the emirate, an increase of 31 per cent compared to the same period last year. Indian visitors surged 30 per cent to exceed 100,000 while the UK registered a 25 per cent increase, followed by the US with 24 per cent and Germany 27 per cent, according to tourism department.

In March, guests from China increased by 15.4 per cent to 40,800, Indian guests numbers rose by 32 per cent to 35,200 and the UK increased by 24 per cent to reach 28,000. US visitor numbers were up 29 per cent to 19,300 and those from Germany rose 36 per cent to 18,800 guests.

The number of UAE-based hotel guests also increased in March to 134,631, up from 130,125 in the same month last year.

The emirate is also supporting start-ups operating in the tourism industry. A consortium that includes the DCT, Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, Etihad Aviation Group and real estate developer Miral said they were partnering with venture capital firm Wamda Capital to launch an accelerator programme for travel and tourism-focused start-ups.