Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, which brought the ‘Everest of Sailing’ to the Arabian Gulf for the first time in 2012 and is behind the return, has also confirmed its Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team will contest the 2014/15 campaign.
The outfit will again be skippered by Britain’s double Olympic medallist, Ian Walker, who led the Arabian entry to a number of Leg and In-Port wins on its maiden title tilt in the last edition.
“Our involvement with the Volvo Ocean Race captured the imagination of our people, who have strong maritime heritage links,” said sheikh Sultan
Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman, TCA Abu Dhabi. “The legacy of the last race is an increase in the breadth of sailing and watersport facilities available, which is something we will build on over this second outing. In 2012 over 120,000 visitors joined in the stopover celebrations at our dedicated waterfront race village - and we will be looking to build on our reputation of delivering a stand-out stopover experience that is talked about long after the fleet has left.”
Abu Dhabi made waves on the global sailing scene with its hosting of the world’s premier offshore sailing race in January 2012.
The event galvanised the emirate’s watersports industry with a wealth of sailing centres, yacht charter companies and state-of-the-art marina facilities coming online over the last 12 months, with more expected. TCA Abu Dhabi believes the return of the ‘Everest of Sailing’ and its Emirati development programme, which saw Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s UAE national crew member Adil Khalid become the first Arab to competitively circumnavigate the world, will re-energise the emirate’s credentials as a world-class watersports destination.
“This second campaign will further galvanise the emirate’s grass-roots sailing development and again give us a global platform on which to promote our deep-rooted maritime heritage,” added sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan.
In other news Abu Dhabi has opened a destination representation office to serve the high potential Indian market.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture orchestrated move comes as India is identified as holding out huge potential for the destination, being less than three hours flying time from most Indian centres and with 124 flights a week linking nine Indian destinations with Abu Dhabi International Airport.
“This is a natural progression from the work we have done over the past two years when we have been getting the pulse of the Indian market via road shows and participation in trade fairs,” explained Mubarak Al Nuaimi, international promotions manager, TCA Abu Dhabi.
“We have reaped dividends from our ‘toe in the water’ approach with India now being our second largest overseas market for hotel guests after the UK. You can gauge our aspirations of the market by the fact that we are launching our first international road show for 2013 and we chose to have it in India.”
From January to the end of November last year some 125,180 Indian guests stayed in Abu Dhabi’s hotels and hotel apartments – a 30 per cent increase on the first 11 months of 2011 – and they accounted for 496,581 guest nights, which is a 34 per cent rise on the 2011 comparative period. Indian guests are staying in Abu Dhabi’s hotels for an average of 3.97 nights.
“Should growth trends for the UK and India continue as they have been for the past 12 months, there is every likelihood that India will be Abu Dhabi’s largest overseas source market for hotel guests in 2014,” added Al Nuaimi. “There is absolutely no doubt that India will play a key role in assisting us attain our 2013 target of 2.5 million hotel guests.”
Abu Dhabi has appointed a full team, based in New Delhi but to serve the whole country, including dedicated MICE and PR representations.
Veteran Indian travel industry professional Bejan Dinshaw will lead the team as it looks to increase visitor numbers to Abu Dhabi, persuade those already travelling to stay longer and to win major corporate meetings business for the destination.
“Quite simply there is much more to see and do in Abu Dhabi than ever before and much that will entice the Indian traveller from a luxury perspective, for family-oriented vacations, for those wanting to engage with the local culture or looking to visit any one of the many world-class sporting and cultural events and headline concerts staged in the emirate throughout the year,” said Dinshaw.
The UK, however, remains Abu Dhabi’s biggest international source market in terms of hotel guests, accounting for 140,393 guest arrivals in 2012. In 2012 some 2,388,023 guests stayed in Abu Dhabi - beating the emirate’s performance in 2011 by 13 per cent. UK guests accounted for 611,609 guest nights and stayed on average 4.36 nights placing the UK top of Abu Dhabi’s overseas source market league.
Abu Dhabi is also promoting its latest major power draw – Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi - the largest waterpark in the UAE which opened recently. This futuristic waterpark spans an area of around 15 football pitches, with 43 rides, slides & attractions – five of which are one-of-a-kind.
Yas Waterworld visitors can try the 238-metre long, world’s first and largest hydromagnetic-powered, six-person tornado waterslide.
For adrenaline seekers there are three-metre high waves on Bubble’s Barrel, which has the world’s largest surfable sheet wave for flowboards and bodyboards.
The Bandit Bomber, a 550–metre coaster, is the first with onboard water and laser effects. Riders can shoot jets of water at targets, drop water bombs and trigger special effects, while people below can spray them with water as they pass.
Sitting atop Jebel Dana, the towering core of the park’s altitude-defying summit and measuring eight metres in diameter, the park’s gigantic pearl is Yas Island’s newest landmark.
The park draws on Abu Dhabi’s heritage and has ‘The Lost Pearl’ as its theme. Visitors follow the story of a young Emirati girl on a quest to find a legendary pearl as they make their way around the attractions, which include a souk and pearl-diving exhibits.