More than 70 decision makers from the UAE and international travel & tourism industry as well as players from the emirate’s burgeoning watersports sector are coming together to leverage the UAE capital’s hosting of the third 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race stopover from mid-December 2014 until 3rd January 2015.
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which is behind the Everest of Sailing’s return to the UAE capital, outlined its race hosting plans at a mega stakeholder briefing and invited the industry to share ideas on how to maximise the New Year 2015 holiday to attract a record number of race visitors to the destination.
In a rallying call, TCA Abu Dhabi said it’s targeting across-the-board growth for its second hosting of the global sailing odyssey with a forecasted 30% economic impact uplift to US$61 million and 15% increase to 36,000 room nights as well as a 15% increase in media values throughout the race to US$115 million.
TCA Abu Dhabi also unveiled a dedicated watersports resource in eight languages on its award-winning www.visitabudhabi.ae website.
“Now that we’re welcoming back this iconic race to our shores in December 2014, we want to take our marine proposition to new heights and truly activate this great city to create a mega stopover,” said Faisal Al Sheikh, Director of Events Bureau, TCA Abu Dhabi, which was behind the capital becoming first Arab destination to welcome the 40-year old race in 2012.
“We have very clear objectives about what we want to achieve: to highlight the destination’s watersports offering, engage the local community, leverage our maritime legacy, upgraded infrastructure and growing sailing fan base, create a world-class experience, unify our buoyant watersports industry and create a compelling visitor proposition that benefits the whole industry and local community.”
With 18 months to go before the Abu Dhabi stopover, the industry has welcomed the chance to get involved with the event from the start, and expects to leverage the race hosting to the full.
Jumeriah At Etihad Towers’ Director of Sales & Marketing, Cornelia Koebele, said that the broad appeal of the race would be a major draw for visitors over the holiday period.
“Personally and professionally, I am very excited to welcome back the Volvo Ocean Race to Abu Dhabi. With a much extended lead in time, we have the scope to plan and maximise having this event in Abu Dhabi. The New Year dates are important for us, and coupled with the event’s significant lifestyle appeal, it means we can work hard to start putting the right packages together. I have already alerted our global sales team to start working towards this,” said Koebele.
Emirates Palace Marina, which recently received the 5 Gold Anchor Award from The Yacht Harbour Association of the UK and holds ICOMIA Green Marina status, also echoed the sentiments.
“The Volvo Ocean Race stopover in 2012 proved the emirate’s capabilities to host major watersports events. The more hospitality and event service providers plan for this event, the more its effect will be felt economically and socially. The key to success is preparation, and by planning, announcing and gaining interest in the event over a year in advance will give more confidence to all stakeholders to invest more tertiary activities around the time, which will in turn encourage greater spectator interest and visitor footfall,” said Capt Toby Haws, Marina Manager at Emirates Palace Marina.
“Emirates Palace and Emirates Palace Marina was a key player in the last event, and we are already planning to increase our involvement and exposure for 2014 by a series of events throughout the year to engage residents and visitors alike with our services and the event itself.”
And Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, which hosted the Volvo Ocean Race teams in 2012, said the event would drive business during the lower peak holiday time.
“This is a period when we see a lot of our members travelling, so having something to keep them here and to have a great influx of visitors coming into the city, will be a major boost. We are definitely onboard,” said Adam Ruegg, Tournament Director at the award-winning championship course.
Abu Dhabi will welcome the Volvo Ocean Race fleet from Recife, Brazil in December 2014 after one of the longest and potentially most-gruelling legs in race history (9,707 nautical miles). The Abu Dhabi In-Port Race, which was won by home favourites Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the last edition, will take place on January 2nd 2015, with the fleet departing for Sanya, China the following day.
TCA Abu Dhabi is pushing forward a package-strong and tourism-driven Abu Dhabi stopover, including a fan-friendly Destination Village activation on the Corniche breakwater and multiple concert and entertainment offerings, which will leverage the New Year dates.
TCA Abu Dhabi is once again working closely with a number of governmental bodies to successfully deliver the stopover, including Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club - the Official Host Yacht Club and key partner in the roll-out of the stopover and junior sailing initiatives; the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club - Technical Headquarters, which will be home to the team areas and international television broadcast compound, and the Event Security Committee, Ministry of Interior, Critical Infrastructure & Coastal Protection Authority, Department of Transport, SEHA, Abu Dhabi Customs, Abu Dhabi Municipality and Abu Dhabi Airports Company.