A seven-strong meetings industry delegation from Abu Dhabi – led by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) – is heading to Baltimore in the USA next week for the destination’s debut showing at the Americas Meetings & Events Exhibition.
ADTA was last year recognised as the World’s Leading Tourist Board by the prestigious World Travel Awards.
The ADTA delegation includes tour and travel operators, the soon-to-open The Rocco Forte Hotel Abu Dhabi, which opens later this year (situated just 15 minutes for fellow delegation member Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre), Emirates Palace and the UAE’s award-winning airline Etihad.
“This is a timely move into the US market as we ready to open a dedicated office in New York and have on-the-ground representative in place to help us penetrate this vast market,” said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, acting promotions director, ADTA.
The US market holds out strong potential for Abu Dhabi with Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-based national carrier flying from both New York and Chicago.
Last year the US was Abu Dhabi’s third largest international source market for hotel guests with some 78,985 Americans staying in the emirate’s hotels – a 16 per cent rise on 2009.
The upward trend has continued in the first four months of this year with US hotel guests accounting for a six per cent rise on last year to number 29,969.
Last year, travel for business as a percentage of Abu Dhabi hotel guests was 72 per cent or approximately 1.3 million of the 1.8 million who stayed in the emirate’s 115 hotels and hotel apartments - of this, some 215,000 guests arrived specifically for MICE activities.
Abu Dhabi is predicting a further rise in travel to the emirate for business purposes this year.
“This is expected to grow by around 200,000 visitors, from 1.3 million to 1.5 million. The MICE component of this is also expected to follow a similar trend growing to approximately 224,806,” added Al Nuaimi.
Rocco Forte is among the highlights of Abu Dhabi’s AIBTM debut
An upsurge in the emirate’s MICE infrastructure is expected to drive the business forward.
“The past year has seen us make great headway as a MICE destination,” said Al Nuaimi.
“We now have a fantastic infrastructure and options which are equally as thrilling. The range from Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest indoor theme park at the modern end of the scale to desert camps and safaris at the cultural end.
“Added to this, the destination is now more affordable than ever with the past year seeing a 24 per cent drop in room rates.
“MICE planners can take advantage of great sailing trips – from speedboat tours to luxury yacht charters; the new Al Forsan world-class sports and leisure destination and the many new hotels and resorts which are coming up, including the Rocco Forte Collection’s first property outside of Europe, the St Regis Resort and Conference Centre on Saadiyat Island, the Hyatt Capital Gate, Park Hyatt on Saadiyat Island, the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal and Jumeirah at Etihad Towers – an ultra-modern structure flanking Abu Dhabi’s signature Corniche.”
Abu Dhabi has won a number of significant conventions recently and will next year host the World Ophthalmology Congress as well as the World Routes Forum.
In 2015 it will host the Asia Pacific Cardiology Congress.
“We have a compelling case to make,” said Al Nuaimi.
“Abu Dhabi is the nexus between west and east, developed and developing, present and future all of which makes for great global conferences.”
And to further drive forward its meetings business, ADTA is incentivising the industry through ‘Advantage Abu Dhabi’ a programme aimed at catalysing and seeding innovative and viable business events aligned to the Abu Dhabi Government’s 2030 Economic Vision.
The programme has already seeded a number of international meetings including the annual World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi which will be held for the second time this December.
Strong assessment criteria gauges the event’s type and degree of support.
Business event organisers with a viable proposal can apply to the initiative for start-up financial grants, governmental endorsement, leadership patronage, cost rebates and marketing support among others.
The Americas Meetings & Events Exhibition runs June 21st-23rd in Baltimore.