Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority won the World’s Leading Tourist Board in the World Travel Awards on Sunday.
More than 180,000 industry professionals voted in the biggest polling in the awards’ 16-year history.
Speaking at World Travel Market, Ahmed Hussein (pictured), deputy director general of ADTA, described the award as a great honour for the Authority.
Hussein said the award was recognition of the work that ADTA had done in just five years in promoting Abu Dhabi as one of the world’s leading tourism destinations.
“We have always had a strong market in business travel, but we are now being recognized as a leisure destination.
“We have a large number of new hotels opening in the next few months, including the Qasr al Sarab.”
The Qasar al Sarab (pictured), or Mirage Palace, is built in the middle of the emirate’s Empty Quarter.
It is approximately 240kms from Abu Dhabi and is literally in the middle of nowhere – the Empty Quarter is the largest uninterrupted body of sand in the world.
The Anantara Resort has a combination of rooms, suites and villas, as well as a spa and a number of restaurants.
Abu Dhabi also has a number of events taking place next year, following this year’s highly successful Formula 1.
These events include: the first Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, the 20th anniversary of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, an extension of the Abu Dhabi Gourmet Festival from 10 to 15 days, and the World Green Tourism Congress, which will be held in the UAE capital in December next year.
The WGTC will be the first major meetings industry initiative to emerge from ADTA’s Advantage Abu Dhabi programme, which is designed to promote and launch new business tourism and meetings concepts to the region.
Dayne Lim, product development director at ADTA, said: “With the event aiming to influence the integration of eco-tourism principles into the operations and policies of tourism industry players, it has huge synergies with the authority’s overall vision of becoming a sustainable destination.”
ADTA expects tourism numbers to be the same as last year at 1.5 million hotel guests.
Next year it is aiming for 10% growth in hotel guests, with 15% slated both for 2011 and 2012 bringing the total to 2.3 million by year end.
Much of that growth is fuelled by the emirate’s airline Etihad which won two awards at last Sunday’s World Travel Awards.
The airline secured the World’s Leading Airline and the World’s Leading First Class.
Etihad general manager Clive Wratten said winning the two awards was a huge honour for the airline.
He said: “These are both hugely significant awards and we are very proud to have won them.”
Wratten admitted that 2009 had been a tough year in terms of business traffic, but that Etihad had held its own in a difficult market.
“One of the advantages we have is people see a new airline and they want to try us out.
“Next year will be tough and there will be pressures on yields, but we believe the numbers are there and it won’t be too bad.”
Etihad has recently launched a brand new first class product and it will be revamping business class early next year.
It also opened a brand new lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal 4, which mirrors the lounge at Abu Dhabi Airport and signed a codeshare agreement with Flybe, which opens up Europe for the airline.