x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Visitor surveys to help tourism plans

Thousands of visitors will be surveyed from next month to build up a profile of people coming to the emirate, to help future tourism planning.

ABU DHABI // Thousands of visitors will be surveyed from next month to build up a profile of people coming to the emirate, to help future tourism planning. More than 5,000 people who arrive at various entry points ? primarily Abu Dhabi International Airport ? will be asked questions on the reason for their visit, how long they plan to stay and where, as part of the initiative by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).

"To date there has been little solid data available to profile the range of tourists Abu Dhabi is now receiving - business tourists, fully inclusive tour guests or family and friend visitors," said Mubarak al Muhairi, the ADTA director general, reported WAM, the state news agency. The survey, which starts in October, will take place over a year to account for seasonal changes, such as peak tourism periods, according to the ADTA. The results are expected in the first quarter of 2009.

The authority has set a target of 2.7 million visitors a year to the city by 2012, with the anticipated increase linked to events such as the Formula One grand prix to be held from 2009, as well as the opening of branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums on Saadiyat Island. Abu Dhabi currently welcomes about 1.5 million visitors a year. "We are now moving to a new level in the development of Abu Dhabi's tourism industry, at a time when, globally, the sector is undergoing intense dynamism," said Mr Muhairi.

"To be able to plan and deliver the correct response, we have to fully understand the habits and requirements of those now visiting the emirate and who we hope will return repeatedly and become destination proponents." An informal survey by The National of tourists to the capital showed people coming for various reasons ? from visiting family to business travellers. "I'm not sure what to expect, but I am just coming to see the area," said George Fong, 31, an engineer, after arriving to Abu Dhabi International Airport from Singapore on his first visit to the city. "I'll be here for a week and my friends will just show me around."

Remedios Ulidah, 44, from Manila, came to stay for a few weeks with one of her aunts. "I want to see how beautiful it is in Abu Dhabi, because there are many Filipinos who are saying how nice it is," she said, just after arriving from the Philippines. "I am really looking forward to seeing the desert and the sands." Fellow Filipino Irineo Dalanon, was on his fifth trip to Abu Dhabi. His wife works here as a nurse, while he remains in the Philippines with their two sons.

"This time I plan to be here for around three months," he said. "The way of living here is good and my wife is very happy when I am here." Family connections also brought Shardae Caetano, 22, to Abu Dhabi from Johannesburg in South Africa. "I have been here before, but my dad hadn't and I think he is interested in investing here now," she said. "There is so much going on here." Alan and Thelma Wignall from the UK are also on their second visit to the country, but their first to Abu Dhabi, where they plan to stay for a week at a resort on the outskirts of the capital.

"We did Dubai last year and enjoyed it, so we thought to come back to Abu Dhabi this time," said Mrs Wignall, 64. "We just want to chill out and relax here." Mohammed Almee, 40, who works in the petrochemical industry, is one of many business travellers to the capital. "I come here every month and stay for about one week, not for social reasons, but purely for business," he said after stepping off a flight from Singapore.

On Sunday, Etihad Airways announced a new target of 25 million passengers a year by 2020. The airline also said it would increase the number of cities it served to 100 from 50 and its workforce to 27,000 from 6,600 by 2020. The national carrier served more than 1.6 million passengers over the summer, putting it on course to meet its target of six million passengers by the end of this year. zconstantine@thenational.ae