Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has raised its hotel guest projections for the coming five years from the original targets set in 2004. The upgrade, revealed in the authority’s five-year plan 2008-2012 unveiled today, puts projected annual hotel guests at 2.7 million by the end of 2012 - 12.5% more than initially envisaged.
The new target also calls for the emirate to have 25,000 hotel rooms by 2012 end - 4,000 more than originally forecast. The plan means the emirate’s hotel stock will jump by 13,000 rooms on its current available inventory.
The new targets are to be achieved by focussing on six service delivery priorities. These are:
? sector standardisation;
? tourism experience enhancement;
? improved access through transportation and visa processing upgrades;
? increased international marketing;
? further product development;
? capitalisation and preservation of the emirate’s distinctive culture, values and traditions.
“The plan has emerged after an extensive strategic planning process which addressed the incredible opportunity Abu Dhabi has to capitalise on its advantageous location, natural assets, climate and unique culture,” said His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman, ADTA.
“The plan is closely aligned to, and totally reflects, the Abu Dhabi Government’s intention of maintaining and enhancing its confident and secure society in an open, global and sustainable economy and one which is diversified away from hydrocarbon dependency. This is in line with the direction of Their Highnesses Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi and General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
“As our economy evolves, we have an opportunity to become an internationally recognised business and leisure destination. However, along with this comes a responsibility to ensure that we develop a tourism strategy that respects our culture, values and heritage and supports other government initiatives, including the attraction of inward investment. We believe our new five-year plan addresses this potential and need for accountability.”
ADTA is taking a conservative approach to guest targets to ensure the destination has the necessary infrastructure in place to satisfy demand and proceeds at a pace which will preserve its secure environment and much-valued cultural heritage.
“The five-year plan is based on the overriding principle of managing growth and ensuring that tourism not only benefits our valued visitors, but also our people - whether national or resident, investors and our society at large,” said His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, ADTA.
“By adopting this highly considered approach we will deliver on our core brand value of respect, expand and improve our international reputation, create increased opportunities for investment partners, develop a skilled workforce of home grown talent serving a vibrant new sector, significantly upgrade services and ultimately deliver an intuitive visitor experience differentiated from all others.”
Abu Dhabi last year exceeded its hotel guest target by five percent receiving some 1.45 million hotel guests, was named one of the world’s top ten destinations by the UK’s largest online travel agent expedia.co.uk and won the World Travel Award for the ‘Best New Tourism Destination’ - achievements which, Al Muhairi says, have laid the groundwork for bigger things to come.
“Since our initial tourism strategy launched in 2004, we have achieved a great deal of success which has impacted Abu Dhabi city and the wider emirate - a policy which will continue. There is a long way to go and huge potential to be tapped, particularly with the completion of numerous major developments currently under way,” he said.
“Our product focus will continue to concentrate on beach, nature, culture, sports, adventure and business tourism and considerable support services will be required for these sectors - opening up new horizons for local, national and international investors on both big ticket and small-to-medium enterprise scales.”
To enhance product integrity while assisting and encouraging investors, the ADTA will progress a series of initiatives across a breadth of operations - some 135 initiatives are to be actioned within two years.
“The most imminent of these will be the introduction of a hotel classification star rating system which has been developed in close consultation with the private sector,” explained Al Muhairi. “We are also working towards streamlining regulations and enhancing their awareness, compliance and boosting online licence application and renewal capability.
“A collaborative approach will address improved access to the emirate across the full range of transportation as well as immigration,” said Al Muhairi.
“We also intend to enhance tourism sector research, partnering the industry and our stakeholders, including universities and industry institutes, to produce relevant research, such as sector skills assessment and requirement forecasts.”
Also on the cards are plans for seven additional ADTA representative offices in new markets by 2012 end. Australia, China and Italy are being targeted this year joining an existing network of offices in the UK, Germany and France. Next year the authority will participate in 17 overseas trade forums which will rise to 25 a year in 2012. It will also pursue increased destination awareness by utilising and expanding on a range of promotional tools including familiarisation trips, workshops and road shows.
There are also plans to co-operate with the education sector to develop hospitality and tourism-related degrees, programmes and specialised training while the authority is hoping to add at least seven major international events in the next five year to its portfolio.
Quality provision is to be prioritised throughout the entire destination offering, according to Al Muhairi.
“We are going to work very closely with our public and private sector stakeholders to identify existing quality standards and achieve consensus on improvements where necessary. We will gauge performance satisfaction through a comprehensive visitor survey and provide stakeholders with constructive feedback. Quality will also be assured through ADTA’s commitment to training investment for its own, and the wider industry’s workforce.”
In addition to the six service delivery priorities which will ‘drive’ Abu Dhabi’s tourism development over the next five years, the authority will implement four priority enablers to build organisational and sector capacity to cater to planned targets and growth. The four are; improved collaboration mechanisms, national sector workforce development, enhancing organisational effectiveness and the strengthening of the sector’s research capabilities.
Al Muhairi said Abu Dhabi’s increasing hotel guest trend will continue and is expected to show a significant increase towards the end of 2009 when numerous major infrastructure projects come on line. These include the Qasr Al Sarab desert retreat in the Liwa Desert, the boutique Desert Islands Resort on Sir Bani Yas island, the Park Rotana Hotel, the Yas Island Formula One race track, which will host a new F1 meeting in 2009, and the eco-friendly, Par 72 Saadiyat Beach Golf Course, designed by golfing legend Gary Player and the Arabian Gulf’s only ‘ocean’ course with several beachfront holes to name a few.