Abu Dhabi is strengthening its links with China with a special visit by the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) to Shanghai as part of an overall programme to increase the number of Chinese inbound guests to the UAE emirate.
The Abu Dhabi delegation will take part in the China International Travel Mart (CITM), which runs from November 15-18 and includes tour operators, hotels and resorts, Etihad Airways – the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and winner of “World’s East Leading Airline” at World Travel Awards – and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest indoor theme park.
And it’s expected all eyes will be on Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and its soon-to-be-launched theatrical spectacle ‘RED.’
“This is a performance representing speed and passion – a compelling new live show that celebrates the spirit of racing and the glamour of 1960s Italy through a 25-minute spectacle that brings the artistry of live theatre together with breath-taking projections, illusions, choreographed performances, acrobatics and on-stage stunts,” explained Bruno Wiley, Sales Director, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. “We anticipate it will have significant appeal within the Chinese segment and expect to launch it in the next few weeks.”
“We are enjoying a steadily growing footfall from Chinese tour groups, which is particularly noticeable around key Chinese holiday periods, such as Chinese New Year and national holidays. We are working closely with our travel trade partners locally and in China to offer a full range of creative promotional tools and collaterals in different languages, including Mandarin, to help Chinese tour groups better understand what to expect during their visit. We also have Chinese staff members who can assist with queries about individual rides and attractions.”
Inbound operator Bavaria Holidays has its sights firmly on the Chinese market having designed a new brochure in Mandarin to promote its special packages for Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain – the emirate’s heritage heartland in its eastern region and the Liwa Oasis and desert in Al Gharbia (its western region).
“We have also designed products with cultural and shopping experiences specifically for the Chinese markets and are running them with expert Chinese staff,” said the company’s Business Development Manager, Ms. Yu Li. “We already have several contacts with Chinese outbound tour operators. This is an extremely high potential market with a large population, a growing economy and significant middle class growth. We are confident of achieving groups from local Chinese DMCs, government organisations, universities and educational institutions.”
With Abu Dhabi’s Chinese hotel guests currently achieving a minimal average-length-of-stay of just 1.81 nights, Rania Rahme, Assistant Director of Sales of pavilion member the five-star Grand Millennium Al Wahda believes the task ahead is to put the emirate front-of-mind as a stand-alone destination for Chinese tourists.
“We are well placed to do this as Chinese visitors like to shop – particularly tax-free shopping which we have – and we are right next to Al Wahda Mall which is also expanding,” she says. “It is important that we sell Abu Dhabi as a point-to-point destination instead of a one-night stop-over.”
Abu Dhabi’s home-grown Danat Hotels & Resorts – the upscale hotel division of the National Corporation of Tourism & Hotels – will be highlighting its six properties throughout Abu Dhabi and the impending launch of the first property under its newly-launched Danat Residence brand. The property, just minutes from Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, will open in the first quarter of 2013 with 189 elegantly furnished apartments, broad-band internet throughout and extensive recreational facilities.
Also in the Abu Dhabi delegation is one of the emirate’s leading tour operators, Al Mariah Travel & Tourism, Etihad Airways, which currently flies 17 times a week from China to Abu Dhabi with daily flights from both Beijing and Shanghai and a thrice-weekly service from Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan Province in South West China. Etihad also operates code-share agreements with China Eastern Airlines and the country’s Hainan Airlines.
Abu Dhabi’s CITM promotion comes as more Chinese than ever begin to stay in Abu Dhabi’s 131 hotels and hotel apartments. Latest TCA Abu Dhabi figures show that in the first nine months of this year 21,530 Chinese stayed in the emirate’s accommodation – a 78% rise on the same period last year and ranking the country 16th in Abu Dhabi’s key international source markets. The Chinese hotel guest nights accounted for 39,047 from Q1-Q3 this year, which was up 52% on 2011.
“Apart from making the necessary contacts to build the number of Chinese guest arrivals our task ahead is to convince the market that there is now much more to see and do in Abu Dhabi,” explained Mubarak Al Nuaimi, International Promotions Manager, TCA Abu Dhabi. “Chinese guests currently represent an average-length-of-stay of just 1.81 days – and we want to significantly expand that. We now have the product with more hotels and resorts, headline attractions and major events and look forward, by the year end, to the opening of Yas Waterworld on Yas Island, which will be the UAE’s biggest waterpark with 43 rides and attractions and a major visitor draw.”