Tourism begins to take off in Al Gharbia

Tourism begins to take off in Al Gharbia

Abu Dhabi’s Western Region (Al Gharbia) has seen upward tourism growth over the last five years.

According to Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) figures hotel guest numbers in Al Gharbia increased 205% from 2008 to 2013 end rising from 30,070 to 92,000, whilst guest room nights grew by 113% to 288,000 over the same period.

Total revenue generated by Western Region hotels has doubled since 2009, with TCA Abu Dhabi predicting that 2013 figures will top AED235 million ($64million).

“The story of Al Gharbia’s tourism industry is one of a segment developing at a measured pace through public and private sector investment. The potential it holds going forward is positive,” Mohammed Al Dhaheri, Quality & Performance Management Manager, TCA Abu Dhabi told the Al Gharbia Development Forum today. 

“Al Gharbia is increasingly finding its feet on the international tourism agenda, which opens doors for all.” 

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Al Dhaheri said would-be investors could look into as yet untapped tourism development areas for the region including golf, leveraging potential cruise stop-overs and inter-island cruising.

Building average guest length of stay would result from enhanced product development, said Al Dhaheri. Last year hotel guests stayed on average 3.13 days in Al Gharbia.
 
“NCTH, which operates the Jebel Dhanna Resort and the Al Dhafra Beach Hotel, has announced it will double capacity of these properties by Q3 next year. It will also add three new restaurants, a swimming pool and spa, creating, by 2015, the largest tourism complex in the area. At Al Mirfa Hotel, the development of a private beach is underway and plans are afoot to add 30 villas to the island project,” he said. 

“The established flagship Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) properties of Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara on Sir Bani Yas Island and the award-winning Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara in Liwa, also continue to add to their offering, helping to raise the profile of the area significantly both domestically and internationally. Rotana Jet’s direct flights to Sir Bani Yas from Abu Dhabi city also make access easier.

“With more to offer, product packaging will increasingly be key. Packaging will mean more business – enhancing the investment opportunity. Plus the development of an events portfolio in line with the growing hotel inventory is also bringing this part of the emirate into the spotlight and allows us to host international media and travel trade there.”

Al Dhaheri also outlined the positive effects this growth was having on the local industry.

“Through Qasr Al Sarab, Emirati employment opened up with a full-time post in the security department and employment of a local lady chef who assists in preparing Emirati food for special events and upon special request,” he added. 

“Dates from Liwa are served in the hotel while the desert activities involve Emirati personnel. Guests also actively go out to discover the culture, history and nature of Liwa including its vegetable farms, date factory oasis and salt lakes.

“Al Mirfa Hotel is aiding the local community too with fish bought from local fishermen being served in restaurants – while its sister property in Liwa is using local desert activity resources to showcase Al Gharbia’s heritage.”