Abu Dhabi rolls out welcome mat for Chinese tourists
Mandarin-speaking concierges and Chinese television channels will become regular fixtures at Abu Dhabi hotels and attractions as part of a certification programme overseen by China’s tourism ministry.
The move comes on the back of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority’s (TCA Abu Dhabi) plans to court Chinese travellers.
Yesterday, China Tourism Academy (CTA), which comes within the Chinese tourism ministry’s purview, and the Shanghai-based consultancy and outbound tour operator Select Holding issued the preferred partner certificate – Welcome Chinese – to more than 30 attractions and hotels.
Among them were 25 hotels such as InterContinental Abu Dhabi and Royal Rose, five tourist attractions such as Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld, and two shopping malls – The Galleria and Souq Qaryat Al Beri.
The certification is valid for a year and can be renewed or upgraded, depending on services provided to Chinese tourists.
Under the certification, the hotels need to provide CCTV channels, UnionPay bank card payment service, kettles in rooms and a Chinese menu, among other offerings.
Shopping malls need to provide Mandarin-speaking shopping staff.
“This opens a lot of doors for the stakeholders in Abu Dhabi,” said Mubarak Al Shamsi, the director of Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau.
With the certification, hotels and attractions join CTA’s partnership network.
Hotels need to pay a first year fee of €3,000 (Dh12,477) to €4,000 with renewal costing half the amount. For attractions, the fees can range between €5,000 and €15,000 a year with the same renewal fee. In return, Select Holding promotes the hotels and attractions in the Chinese market.
The number of Chinese tourists to the emirate has been increasing ever since China relaxed travel restriction to the UAE in 2009.
According to CTA, with nearly 100 million Chinese travelling abroad in 2014 who spent US$164.8 billion, every tourist destination is vying for the attention of the market.
The capital, however, received a fraction of that market. About 120,350 guests from China checked into Abu Dhabi hotels last year. That was an increase of 166 per cent on the previous year, making it a top five source market compared with 20th position three years ago. Much of the rise last year was due to 10,000 agents from the Chinese cosmetics company Nu Skin visiting the emirate last year as part of an incentive tour.
Chinese tourists stayed in the capital on average for 1.67 nights, but TCA Abu Dhabi expects to increase the length of stay to two nights this year, Mr Al Shamsi said.
A slowing Chinese economy, however, is not expected to keep them at home.
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