x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

More guests for Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi has witnessed a sharp increase in the number of visitors arriving, according to new hotels and airport data.

Travelers take a tour of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque. Andrew Henderson / The National
Travelers take a tour of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque. Andrew Henderson / The National

Airline passenger traffic through Abu Dhabi is increasing, and hotel occupancy in the emirate is rising as room rates fall and more visitors arrive from Russia, India and Saudi Arabia.

A total of 694,181 guests stayed at the capital's hotels in the first four months of the year, up 10 per cent on the same period last year, the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) reported.

"I think Abu Dhabi has become a lot better value for money," said Adrian Deegan, the area director of sales at Rotana Hotels, which manages 10 hotels in the emirate. To tap demand from emerging markets, the Abu Dhabi chain is opening sales offices in Shanghai, Mumbai and Moscow tomorrow, he said.

Hoteliers say Abu Dhabi has benefited as rooms have become cheaper.It has also gained from major conferences and sporting and entertainment events, such as concerts on Yas Island, as well as from the unrest elsewhere in the region as travellers have sought stable destinations.

Russia, which ADTA has been targeting, provided 50 per cent more guests - 5,459 - than in the first four months of last year, the agency said.

The number of visitors from India, the emirate's second-biggest international market for hotel guests after the UK, rose 29 per cent to 33,073. The number of guests from Saudi Arabia rose 46 per cent in the first four months of this year to 19,375.

"Other forward drivers are increasing air links including this week's launch by Cathay Pacific of four-times-weekly flights from Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi," said Lawrence Franklin, the director of strategy and policy at ADTA.

These flights are expected to boost business from mainland China, as they open up access to cities through Cathay Pacific's sister carrier Dragonair. ADTA is expecting the number of hotel guests from Hong Kong and mainland China to increase by more than 20 per cent this year.

A total of 996,000 passengers travelled through Abu Dhabi International Airport last month, up 15 per cent on April last year, Abu Dhabi Airports Company said yesterday. "London saw the highest growth from Abu Dhabi, recording a 33 per cent increase over 2010 due to the last year's [Icelandic] volcano ash impact," it said.

Over the summer, 900 flights are scheduled to depart from Abu Dhabi each week.

rbundhun@thenational.ae