As global heads of the aviation industry gather in Abu Dhabi for the 18th World Route Development Forum, the UAE capital looks set to remain firmly in the spotlight this year with a host of major travel and tourism events coming to its sunny shores.
Abu Dhabi will play host to the IATA World Passenger Symposium 2012 later in October at the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, meanwhile The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit is set for April 2013.
The 18th World Route Development Forum is taking place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from September 29th until October 2nd.
With a wealth of new projects, major hotel developments and new airlift planned in and around Abu Dhabi, delegates of these events will find plenty to see and do during their visit.
In recognition of some of the incredible developments taking place, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority won Middle East’s Leading Marketing Campaign and was named Middle East’s Leading Tourist Board and Middle East’s Leading Beach Destination by the World Travel Awards in 2012.
Speaking about the significance of hosting the WTTC Summit Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority’s director general, His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi explained:
“It is a platform for us to come together, to engage with each other and strike up new ventures, initiatives and relationships.”
“We have many more attractions, new beach resorts on Saadiyat Island, new city centre hotels and a new golf resort.” He added.
“By this time next year, we will have opened another two major resorts – one on a beach, another fronting a mangrove forest and we will have welcomed more international names to the destination – Accor and Ritz-Carlton among them.
“Yas Island will also, at the end of this year, open the UAE’s largest waterpark.”
Visitor numbers continue to rise
Last year the Emirate broke all records for guest arrivals, with a total of 2.1 million people staying at hotels and hotel apartments over the course of the year – beating the official target of two million by 6.5 percent.
This is a highly encouraging result came in a year which saw substantial additions to Abu Dhabi’s hotel and resort inventory, including several five-star beach properties opening up on Saadiyat Island to guests.
“There is a clear correlation between this increase, our opening of offices in Russia and the USA, our heightened focus on the Asian markets, a vibrant calendar of world-class events, increased air access with the arrival into Abu Dhabi of new carriers and the expansion of Etihad Airways’ network and a substantial increase in cross-network marketing undertaken by the arrival of major new hospitality brands,” said ADTCA chairman Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan.
Annual growth was also recorded across a number of other key metrics, including guest nights, which were up 22 percent to 6.3 million.
Occupancy levels also rose seven percent to 69 per cent, while revenue was up three per cent to US $ 1.2 billion.
Meanwhile 2012 looks just as promising so far. A total of 1.2 million guests stayed in Abu Dhabi’s hotels and hotel apartments during the first six months of this year - an increase of 14 per cent on the first half of 2011.
Figures show that in total 1,189,995 guests checked into hotels and hotel apartments throughout the emirate from January to June this year accounting for some 3,369,228 guest nights – an increase of nine per cent on the comparative six months of 2011.
“This is a very encouraging performance which leaves us well on track to attain our yearly target of 2.3 million guests,” said his excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, TCA Abu Dhabi.
“The task ahead is to maintain the momentum but we are relatively confident of doing this as we look forward to a season ahead packed with major events, including the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Art and the planned November opening of Yas Waterworld – which will be the UAE’s largest water park – and will further heighten the entertainment proposition of Yas Island.
A stellar June performance of 205,950 hotel guests – figures this year were up 17 per cent on June 2011 – helped achieve the record half yearly results.
Most key markets returned an increase in hotel guests over the six months with the exception of the UK, USA and France.
The UK slipped two per cent to 71,465 with a five per cent drop in guest nights to 298,969, which still left it top of the international performance ranking.
All this leaves Abu Dhabi well positioned to reach a target of 2.3 million guests in 2012 – a 15 percent rise on the 2011 target.
Abu Dhabi targets Business Travellers
The direct economic impact of business events such as the WTTC Summit on the Abu Dhabi is expected to grow seven per cent annually over the next eight years to reach AED5.1 billion (US$1.4 billion) by 2020, according to ADTCA
The figures, culled from a survey the authority commissioned from a leading consulting house, say that in 2010 – the latest year for which business events impact figures are available – the total economic impact of business events to the emirate was AED2.4 billion.
The authority has set keen targets for its meetings, incentive, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) business for the coming eight years.
By 2015 it hopes to see the emirate viewed as the region’s leading meetings destination and ranked among the world’s top 100 meeting destinations with a four-fold increase in the number of MICE events currently held and double the number of MICE visitor arrivals and yield.
Five years later it anticipates the emirate being viewed as a leading regional meetings destination with ten times the number of MICE events as now with the number of MICE visitors and yield quadrupling.
Integral to Abu Dhabi’s success is the quality of its hotel and the ground-breaking levels of service and facilities they offer.
This is exemplified by the iconic Emirates Palace, the palatial destination resort in the heart of Abu Dhabi.
Located on a 1.3 kilometre stretch of private white pristine beach with 100 hectares of manicured lawns and lush landscaped gardens, Emirates Palace breathtaking surrounding make it the ultimate resort for corporate entertaining and indulgent getaways.
Earlier this year, Emirates Palace was named Middle East’s Leading Luxury Resort,
Middle East’s Leading Meetings & Conference Resort, Middle East’s Leading Suite, UAE’s Leading Resort, Abu Dhabi’s Leading Meetings and Conference Hotel and Abu Dhabi’s Leading Resort
Jumeirah’s sparkling addition
A sparkling addition to the skyline of the UAE capital, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers opened last November on the beachfront of the West Corniche.
The 280-metre, 66-floor building forms one of five towers of the Etihad Towers complex – a ground-breaking lifestyle development that also incorporates offices, residential apartments, as well as a shopping centre filled with designer boutiques. There is also a private beach, conference centre and a full range of gourmet restaurants.
Guests can expect the trademark Jumeirah opulence with 382 rooms and suites loaded with the very latest in lifestyle technology. For the full Jumeirah experience check into the Royal Etihad Suite, located on the 60th floor and occupying a whopping 980 square metres.
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers has rapidly established itself as a leading player on the global luxury hospitality scene, reflected in winning UAE’s Leading Hotel, Abu Dhabi’s Leading Hotel and Middle East’s Leading Wedding Venue at the World Travel Awards Middle East & Africa Ceremony earlier this year.
Yas Island is home to some of the UAE’s most exciting attractions, including Ferrari World – home of the world’s largest roller coast – events, as well as concerts and much much more.
The flagship project of the $36 billion Yas Island development, the Yas Viceroy Hotel is a breathtaking fusion of architecture, design and technology, set half on land and half on water. It is also the first hotel in the world built directly over a Formula One race track and in 2010 was voted “World’s Leading New Hotel” by World Travel Awards.
Abu Dhabi aviation set for growth
The Abu Dhabi aviation market is set for strong growth in 2012, according to the latest OAG data.
Seat capacity is expected to increase to 9.9 million (one-way) this year, up 12 per cent from 8.9 million in 2011.
The latest numbers highlight that the capital of the United Arab Emirates is still outgrowing not just the global aviation market, but also the Middle East aviation market that expects a six per cent growth in seat capacity this year.
The number of departures from Abu Dhabi International Airport is estimated to grow by eight per cent this year, from 50,700 to 54,600.
The fact that the number of seats flown rises faster than the number of flights underlines a trend towards long-haul flights operated by larger aircraft.
Abu Dhabi’s growth as a global aviation hub is fuelled by the success of Etihad Airways, which accounts for a 71 per cent market share in 2012.
The national airline – recognised as the World’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards - will offer around seven million seats at Abu Dhabi International this year, an increase of 900,000 seats or 15 per cent.
The most significant market for flights to and from Abu Dhabi is Asia, with 3.5m one-way seats flown this year, followed by the Middle East with 3m seats and Europe with 2.2m.
The latest OAG data was released ahead of the 18th World Route Development Forum which is taking place this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
It is the largest global event of its kind, determining the future of air services. Hosted by Abu Dhabi Airports Company, the 2012 event is targeted to attract over 2,750 delegates from more than 120 countries, representing over 300 airlines and 750 airports.
David Stroud, executive vice president, Routes commented: “The fact that Abu Dhabi one of the global centres of aviation growth makes it more than fitting that the city hosts the world’s civil aviation community this week for its largest annual gathering.
“The decisions that will be taken at World Routes in the coming days will shape air services for years to come.”
Home of the world’s leading airline
The UAE flag carrier Etihad Airways also continues to blaze a trail in aviation. Just eight years old, the Abu Dhabi based airline has grown into a global superbrand. Its growth has never fallen below 40 percent a year in that time.
This year it has reached the milestone stage of moving into profit. This coincided with it being voted “World’s Leading Airline”, “World’s Leading Airline First Class” and “World’s Leading Airline to the Middle East” at World Travel Awards 2011.
A total of 8.3 million passengers flew with the flag carrier in 2011, up 17 per cent on 2010.
James Hogan, chief executive of Etihad Airways, said: “Despite the global financial crisis, continued high oil prices, regional instability and natural disasters, we have delivered.”
Hogan, who was named WTTC vice chairman for the Middle East and Africa during this year’s WTTC Summit, said Etihad Airways was looking forward giving many of the WTTC delegates their first taste of Arabian hospitality on board their flight to Abu Dhabi for next year’s Summit.
“Recent years have seen Abu Dhabi’s emergence as a dynamic, contemporary city and global economic powerhouse,” he said.
“The success of this approach is a strong endorsement of WTTC policy.”
“Today Abu Dhabi is an exciting place to be and I have no doubt WTTC delegates will enjoy the city’s hospitality and be amazed at its energy when they attend the summit in 2013.”
Superb cruise facilities
A new terminal, designed to accommodate 1,300 passengers has been built at Mina Zayed as Abu Dhabi continues to develop as a cruise destination.
A joint project from Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Terminals, the facility has been designed to cater for the 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 cruise seasons.
MSC Lirica became the first vessel to homeport in the emirate following the opening of the terminal in late 2011.
Abu Dhabi International Airport, which was celebrating its 30th anniversary last year, also has ambitious plans for the future. In the coming five years, the airport will be focusing on achieving new competitive milestones with the completion of the new Midfield Terminal Building, scheduled to open in 2017.
The 700,000 square meter building is a landmark project being undertaken in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, and will be able to handle 27-30 million passengers per year when it opens.
Reasons to Celebrate
One of the highlights of the coming year is sure to be the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, scheduled to take place at the spectacular Yas Marina circuit on November 2nd-4th.
United Arab Emirates flag-carrier Etihad Airways signed a deal with the Formula 1 group earlier this year to extend its title sponsorship of the Grand Prix for a further four years, the event look sets to grow yet further.
The deal will see the airline sponsor the event through to the 2015 with two F1-liveried aircraft flying to destinations across its network.
Eminem and Kylie Minogue are among acts who have confirmed they will play during the Formula 1 weekend celebrations.
Eminem has been unveiled as the final Yasalam After-Race Concert artist, bringing the weekend to a stunning climax at the du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
Kylie will play on November 2nd while Eminem will perform on Sunday November 4th, after the 2012 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Yasalam After-Race Concerts are staged at the du Arena, Yas Island, exclusively for F1 ticket holders.