Abu Dhabi - the largest of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates and home to the country’s capital, Abu Dhabi city - now has a destination representation office to serve the high potential Indian market.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) 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% increase on the first 11 months of 2011 - and they accounted for 496,581 guest nights, which is a 34% 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.
News of the Abu Dhabi’ full-time presence in India came as TCA Abu Dhabi, along with its trade partner Lama Tours, led a 12-strong industry delegation representing its attractions, hotels and airline sectors on a five-day, whistle-stop road show promotion across five cities in the country. The road show is taking in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. The visit to Ahmedabad is the emirate’s first promotion in the Gujarat commercial capital and is aimed at leveraging the recent launch, by Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, of a daily service to Abu Dhabi International Airport .
Lama Tours, which recently opened a dedicated office in Abu Dhabi city, is introducing specific packages for visitors looking to explore the UAE capital and its wider emirate.
“The prospects are excellent with the Abu Dhabi product maturing,” said Kulwant Singh, Managing Director, Lama Tours. “The leisure offering in particular will be given a major boost later this month when the much anticipated Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi - the UAE’s largest waterpark - opens on the entertainment hub of Yas Island.
“We see potential in the leisure sector as well as within the weddings and MICE segments and believe many Indian operators will wish to take first mover advantage in a destination which is now emphatically making its mark on the international tourism arena.”
Indications of the potential of the Indian wedding market have come with a booking, this month, for a major wedding celebration at the five-star The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, which was recently named the ‘Ultimate Beach Destination’ by leading European online agent E-Bookers. The soon-to-open luxury Ritz Carlton Grand Canal Abu Dhabi has also reported strong wedding interest from India and has a dedicated wedding planner on staff to aid the celebrations.
Abu Dhabi’s Indian road show delegation includes: the luxury Jumeirah at Etihad Towers; the stunning Yas Marina Circuit, home to the annual F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix; Ferrari World Abu Dhabi - the world’s largest indoor theme park with the world’s fastest roller coaster; Emirates Palace, which is one of the world’s most opulent hotels; the five-star Hyatt Capital Gate which is housed in the iconic Capital Gate Tower, the world’s furthest leaning tower; the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal Abu Dhabi; the Rotana Group; the iconic Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, the only hotel in the world to straddle an F1 race track; The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa; the Anantara Group, which operates three properties in Abu Dhabi including the newly-opened Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa; The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, recently named the ‘Ultimate Beach Destination’ by Europe’s E-Bookers online service and Etihad, which now flies from nine India destinations to Abu Dhabi International Airport .
TCA Abu Dhabi is also introducing Indian audiences to the emirate’s packed programme of world class events, which includes: this month’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship featuring Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods and the January 31 concert by Kanye West, one of the world’s biggest hip hop stars at Yas Island’s du Arena; February’s Gourmet Abu Dhabi culinary festival which runs for 15 days across 20 of Abu Dhabi’s fine dining restaurants and includes an appearance by international TV chef and celebrity Rachel Allen as well as Indian culinary stars Abhijit Saha and Imtiaz Quereshi; the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, which will be contested March 2 and the Abu Dhabi Festival - a spectacular programme of world-class and innovative artistic talent running March 3-31 and featuring March 14 & 15 performances by Russia’s world famous Mariinsky Ballet and a March 20 performance by opera supremo Placido Domingo.
Following on from its 2013 India launch road show, TCA Abu Dhabi and a nine-strong stakeholder delegation will head to New Delhi’s SATTE travel and tourism show ready to receive potential trade partners at its Abu Dhabi pavilion. Abu Dhabi’s SATTE contingent includes tour operators, hotels and attractions.
“This year’s SATTE participation represents an 80% increase on last year which reflects Abu Dhabi demand for Indian business,” explained Al Nuaimi.