Abu Dhabi has recorded its most successful year ever in terms of hotel guest arrivals with some 2,111,611 people staying in the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments – beating its 2011 stretch target of two million by 6.5 per cent or over 100,000 guests.
Annual growth was recorded across a number of key metrics including: guest nights, which were up 22 per cent to 6.3 million; occupancy levels which rose seven to 69 per cent; revenue, which rose three per cent to AED4.375 billion (US $ 1.2 billion) and length of stay which expanded five per cent to 2.97 nights.
Room revenue increased by two per cent to AED2.3 billion (US $631 million), though the average room rate slipped by 14 per cent to AED 490 (US $133), while food and beverage revenue increased by six per cent to AED1.605 billion (US $434.721 million).
“This is a highly encouraging result in a year which has seen substantial additions to our hotel and resort inventory, including several five-star beach properties opening up Saadiyat Island to guests,” said HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which released the figures today.
“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.
“It leaves us well placed to build for 2012 for which we had initially target 2.3 million but, in conjunction with stakeholders, will now reassess to see if this too, can be stretched.”
December delivered a bumper return for Abu Dhabi with some 207,723 guests checking into the emirate’s hotels – a 26 per cent rise on December 2010 and the highest achieving month of the year.
“We attribute the strong December performance to people taking their seasonal festivity breaks in the emirate and staying for the lead up to the New Year’s celebrations,” said HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, ADTA.
Domestic tourism accounted for 39 per cent of overall 2011 arrivals with the GCC, including the UAE making up 45 per cent of hotel guests.
Non-GCC Arab countries accounted for 11 per cent, Asia 14 per cent and Europe 18 per cent.
“Within the GCC, Saudi Arabia performed particularly well for us with guest numbers climbing by 58 per cent to 60,991 making the Kingdom our sixth largest international source market,” said Al Muhairi.
“Kuwait has also demonstrated huge potential with numbers from the state increasing by 36 per cent to 15,898, Qatar increasing by 11 per cent to 22,898 and Oman growing by ten per cent to 25,088.
“Asia’s growth was particularly influenced by increased in arrivals from India, which rose by 30 per cent to 108,170 guests and is now the emirate’s second largest international source market, and China, which was up 15 per cent to 16,795.
“We will continue to focus heavily on these emerging markets with a four-city travel trade road show in India next month culminating in our biggest pavilion yet at the SATTE travel trade fair in New Delhi and will equally benefit from Etihad’s planned launch of a non-stop, daily service from Shanghai from March.”
Russia also performed well, with guest arrivals rising 44 per cent on the year to 13,989.
Europe’s growth rate was primarily influenced by: the UK, which remains Abu Dhabi’s biggest international source market accounting for 139,319 – an increase of 18 per cent: Germany, from where arrivals rose 25 per cent to 68,077; France, from where the market grew 15% to 42,682 and Italy, which saw a 13 per cent growth to 31,769.
“These results should be viewed as highly encouraging when viewed against a background of world economic uncertainties which are impacting many destinations,” said Al Muhairi.
“We begin 2012 buoyed by Abu Dhabi being named ‘Golf Destination Of The Year Middle East and Africa’ by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators which we hope to further leverage through our newly-launched Golf In Abu Dhabi product.
In addition, we have a string of major events lined up with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship this month, Gourmet Abu Dhabi next month and the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in March.
February is also promising to be a stellar month with over 10,000 participants due in town for the World Ophthalmology Congress, the largest convention to be held in the UAE capital to date.