Abu Dhabi continues meteoric rise

Abu Dhabi continues meteoric rise

The number of guests staying in hotels and hotel apartments in Abu Dhabi in the first 10 months of this year has risen on the same period in 2009. The announcement comes in the same month Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority picked up “World’s Leading Tourist Board” at the 2010 World Travel Awards.

The figures, just released by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), mean that the emirate, which has witnessed a surge in its accommodation stock over the past 12 months, looks certain to achieve, if not surpass, its 2010 target of 1.65 million hotel guests – a rise of 10% on last year.

From January – October end, Abu Dhabi also recorded a 15% year-on-year increase in guest nights which rose to 4,096,140.

October proved one of Abu Dhabi’s best performing months this year with an 18% year-on-year increase in guest numbers which came in at 151,335 and a 4% rise in their average length of stay to 3.3 nights.

“We anticipate November’s performance will be equally impressive with the emirate having hosted a number of key trade exhibitions and, of course, the 2010 Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Add to this the recent opening of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and the arrival of the Yas Island Show Weekends which the hotels on Yas Island are supporting with extremely attractive deals and our annual target is well within our sights,” said Lawrence Franklin, Strategy & Policy Director, ADTA.

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“Our tourism proposition is at its most compelling and the task going forward is to maintain this upward momentum.”

Domestic tourism continues to perform well growing 15% year-on-year to 616,238 with international hotel guests increasing by 17% to 861.560.

In terms of guest nights, the UK continues to be the top performing international market with an 18% increase year-on-year accounting for some 420,204 guest nights.

“We are confident of maintaining our growth from the UK & Ireland with third party endorsements such as Abu Dhabi’s recent naming by Britain’s influential trade publication Travel Trade Weekly as “arguably the world’s most exciting new tourism hotspot,”” said Franklin.

The United States came in second, growing 35% year-on-year to 344,183. Russia, where ADTA plans to open a destination promotion office by the end of the year, increased year-on-year by 13% to 35,787.

Increased accommodation stock throughout Abu Dhabi impacted occupancy and revenue levels which slipped by 16% year-on-year to 63% and 5% to AED3.2 billion (US $ 888 million) respectively.

“Though now a much more competitive destination than this time last year we are conscious of the need to achieve a more healthy occupancy of between 65%-75% to meet investor business imperatives and the demands of consumers. Importantly, occupancy during October was a healthy 72% showing that we have the capability to operate within this range,” added Franklin.

“We are also encouraged by the fact that month-on-month room revenue growth from September to October this year at 50% was the highest achieved over the past 10 months.”

F&B revenues throughout Abu Dhabi’s hotels reached AED1.1 billion (US $ 305 million) for the first 10 months of the year, a 13% year-on-year increase and now account for 36% of all hotel revenues compared to 30% for the same period last year.

ADTA recently laid out its 2011 tourism agenda which is aimed at delivering 1.9 million hotel guests staying in around 22,000 hotel rooms and contributing 11.1% to the emirate’s overall non-oil GDP. The targets will mean a 15% rise on the 2010 hotel guest target, an increase of over 5,000 hotels rooms and a 0.4% increase in overall non-oil GDP contribution.

Franklin said in 2011, Abu Dhabi hoped to shift its current business tourism orientated hotel guest profile to a more balanced business/leisure tourism split.

“We are confident we can achieve this because our leisure proposition has, and will, continue to grow,” he said. “More intense focus on the leisure segment also aids our strategy of increasing overall length of stay.”

In addition to the imminent ADTA office in Russia, the authority is also planning promotional offices in Saudi Arabia and the USA in the short term.

“Our 2011 campaign envisages an increasingly dynamic international media hosting programme and the roll out of phase 2 of our global advertising campaign,” explained Franklin. “In addition, we will participate in 18 international trade fairs during 2011 with first-time participation in shows in Russia, Korea and the USA.

“These new shows have been selected to emphasis our push into the Russian and American markets and to leverage and support the new Etihad service from Seoul to Abu Dhabi International which begins December 10,” he added.

Franklin said 2011 prospects would be enhanced by the planned home porting of MSC Cruises’ luxury MSC Lirica from October next year and of the hosting of the 2011/2012 Volvo Ocean Race fleet on its third leg stop-over.

A partnership with MSC Cruises will see the Italian cruise operator run 19 Arabian Gulf itineraries from Abu Dhabi.

“This brings us the potential of an additional 40,000 over-nighting passenger arrivals for the 2011/2012 season and a great opportunity to translate these into return visitors with industry trends showing that currently 30% of cruise passengers return later to the home port destination having once had a taste of it,” Franklin explained.