Hotel bookings in Abu Dhabi experienced a record rise in 2011, helping the emirate to achieve its best year yet for arrivals.
Russians and Indians flock to Abu Dhabi
A big increase in visitors from India and Russia helped Abu Dhabi to achieve its best year ever for hotel bookings.
Some 2,111,611 people checked in to hotels in the emirate last year, surpassing an official target by more than 100,000 guests.
The previous high was about 1.8 million hotel guests in 2010.
Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), said the record year was due to several factors, including an increasing focus on Asian markets, and the opening of tourism offices in the US and Russia. Hotel bookings from Russia rose by 44 per cent on the year to almost 14,000, while guests from India increased by 30 per cent to more than 108,000.
"A lot of the growth we have seen out of India has been organic. We are now much more actively engaging with that market in terms of roadshows, attending trade shows and exhibitions," said Lawrence Franklin, the strategy and policy director for ADTA.
Bookings from China - another key market - rose at a more modest rate of 15 per cent, from 14,580 guests in 2010 to 16,795 last year.
"It is still a relatively small market for us in terms of volume. The good news … is there is obviously substantial potential for us to get a share of that market and build that volume," Mr Franklin said.
There were also increases from European countries, including the UK and Germany.
Uprisings in some other countries in the region, plus major events such as the Abu Dhabi Formula One race and the expansion of Etihad Airways' network, also contributed to the record year.
Occupancy levels, lengths of stay, guest nights, room revenue, food and beverages all rose throughout the year, although the average room rate dipped by 14 per cent.
Last month was the strongest of the year, with almost 208,000 hotel bookings, a 26 per cent increase on the same period in 2010.
"I think 2011 was a year when we started to get really good critical mass in terms of our capacity, in terms of the volume of accommodation, air routes and linkages. That has helped us build a lot of noise internationally about the destination," added Mr Franklin.