Abu Dhabi pulls in big names at AIBTM

Abu Dhabi pulls in big names at AIBTM

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and a delegation of its stakeholders have been winning attention States-side as they made their debut at the first American Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings exhibition in Baltimore last week.

The delegation conducted over 200 presentations to US buyers - many who were getting their first briefing on the emirate and its meetings industry facilities.

ADTA and Etihad, the award-winning national airline of the UAE, received enquiries from one US organizer looking to bring charity and celebrity golf tournaments to the emirate while Emirates Palace was readying to quote on three different incentive groups which FedEx is looking to take to the Middle East.

“The delegation received interest for corporate meetings group from aviation majors, incentive programmes and senior retreats for a blue chip which is also planning to open a regional headquarters in the UAE capital and an incentive for Microsoft which could bring upwards of 650 executives to the emirate in 2014,” said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Acting International Promotions Director, ADTA.

“These enquiries were all for genuine programmes which are on the table now and we believe we are in a better position than ever to win the business with an upscaled destination offering and a keener competitive edge with room rates in Abu Dhabi having fallen 24% over the past year,” he added.

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ADTA also used AIBTM to introduce the initial members of its planned, four-strong US team which is now being formed in advance of the anticipated Q3 opening of its New York office - the seventh on the authority’s overseas network.

Heading up the US operation is travel industry veteran Al Merschen, taking the reins as ADTA’s Acting Country Manager for American who has over 20 years experience in the sector.

“We see great potential for Abu Dhabi from the US with non-stop flights from both Chicago and New York operated by Etihad and growing awareness in the market through Abu Dhabi’s expanding links with the States such as the New York University campus and the planned Guggenheim Abu Dhabi,” explained Merschen.

He said, “The long haul upscale market has not been as adversely affected by the economic downturn as other segments and is a great fit for Abu Dhabi.”

He added, “We plan to work first with the agency groups to build up distribution channels in particular Virtuoso and Signature which between them control over $10bn worth of outbound US travel a year.”

Merschen went on to say, “We will be targeting deep pockets and view the task not solely as building up the number of US hotel guests for Abu Dhabi but building up the American spend in the destination. We will also target the Bleisure market encouraging more corporate to look upon Abu Dhabi as their regional business hub and alumni travel from the educational tourism sector which is huge and which brings a convincing halo effect to the destination.”

“The time is now right to enter the American market with a sophisticated product now in place, non-stop air links and an excellent destination story to sell,” he concluded.

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