x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Capital registers increase in tourists

Up to 90 per cent hotel occupancy for most of the year.

ABU DHABI // Tourism to the capital increased for the first nine months of the year, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). ADTA figures released yesterday showed about 1.16 million tourists came to Abu Dhabi between January and September, which was an increase of seven per cent on the same period last year. Statistics since the start of the world credit crunch were not available but the capital appeared to be holding its position with business tourism, which traditionally stays strong during economic downturns.

"Given the healthy prognosis for business tourism we believe the demand will continue," said Mubarak al Muhairi, the director general of ADTA. "Abu Dhabi does not intend to become a mass-market, leisure-dominant destination. We will continue to develop at the premium end of the spectrum. "Our hotels are running at 85 to 90 per cent occupancy for most of the year and hoteliers remain bullish about prospects for 2009. In other words, we have pent-up demand."

The largest group of visitors were from within the UAE, with about 390,000 travelling here this year. Tourists from Europe comprise the second largest group, with more than 270,000 visitors, an increase of 16 per cent. Of the Europeans, there were 87,000 UK guests, up 30 per cent from last year. The number of visitors from the US was 33,798 and 13,654 came from Canada. However, the figures represented 60 per cent and 80 per cent increases respectively. Twenty thousand Australians visited - an increase of more than 50 per cent. Other major source countries were Germany, the Netherlands and France. France's 18,711 tourists represented a 54 per cent rise in the past year.

The ADTA said the growth of Etihad Airways accounted for part of the increase. The authority has set a target of 2.7 million visitors by 2012 and hopes to raise the number of hotel rooms to 25,000 from 13,000 within four years. jgerson@thenational.ae Airport gets busier, page b1