Luxury holidays pull in crowds to Abu Dhabi

A record number of travellers visited Abu Dhabi over the first half of 2011, with guest numbers, guest nights, occupancy, revenue and length-of-stay all up, according to the latest figures.

Hotel guests were up 11 per cent to just over one million, guest nights increased 26 per cent to over three million, occupancy rose ten per cent to 70 per cent, and revenue climbed six per cent to US$ 619 million, while average-length-of-stay expanded 13 per cent to 2.97 nights.

“This is an impressive performance and one which bodes well for the destination achieving its stretch target of two million guests by the end of this year,” said HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which released the figures.

“Results have been assisted by the destination’s heightened competitiveness with average room rates falling by 15 per cent in the first half compared to last year making Abu Dhabi a more affordable up-scale option than Sydney, Paris, New York or Tokyo.”

Sheikh Sultan added the second-half of the year could prove stellar for the destination despite the planned opening of a flurry of major hotel properties.

“The fact is that we have an up-scaled major events calendar, superior resort openings and compelling visitor package deals in the offing,” he explained.

“This includes the third Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this November, nationwide celebrations this December to mark the 40th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates and the highly-anticipated hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet for a two-week, carnival-style stopover starting December 30.

“We have a great accommodation and attractions infrastructure now in place, keener competitiveness and a more compelling story with which to engage potential visitors.”

The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority itself was recently recognised as the World’s Leading Tourist Board by the World Travel Awards.

New Hotels in Abu Dhabi

Some ten luxury, five-star resorts are due on stream in Abu Dhabi by the end of the year which will heighten competition in some segments though ADTA believes they will significantly add to the destination’s appeal and expand its overall market reach.

“Many of these are major beachfront resorts which will substantially boost our leisure proposition,” explained Sheikh Sultan.

“And, with all being managed by high-end chains, there will significant additional weight added to the destination’s international marketing through CRM and the combined power of these chains in distribution channels.”

Key properties to open are: the Westin Hotel & Spa, Abu Dhabi Golf Club; the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara; the Hyatt Capital Gate, which borders Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC); the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island; the Rocco Forte Hotel Abu Dhabi, the luxury brand’s first foray into the Middle East; the ultra-luxurious St. Regis Saadiyat Resort and Residences, Saadiyat Island; the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers on the UAE capital’s sweeping Corniche and the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal Abu Dhabi, which overlooks a private marina.

In the first six months of this year the UK remained the emirate’s largest hotel guest source market accounting for some 72,998 guests – a 20 per cent increase on the first half of 2010.

Other destinations making significant contributions were India which rose 22 per cent; Germany up 15 per cent, Saudi Arabia which climbed 44 per cent; France which was up 29 per cent; Italy which increased 22 per cent, Australia which rose 18 per cent; Kuwait up 19 per cent and Russia up 40 per cent.

“We have benefited from on-the-ground representation in Russia and anticipate further increases from the US and Saudi Arabia where on-the-ground representation has recently been activated,” concluded Sheikh Sultan.