A delegation of Abu Dhabi travel industry players is heading for Seoul this week as the emirate begins to actively target the South Korean outbound industry.
Seven of the emirate’s leading travel industry stakeholders are making their exhibition debut at KOTFA - South Korea’s main tourism exhibition which runs June 2-5 - in a pavilion and mission led by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, voted “World’s Leading Tourist Board” by World Travel Awards.
“Our move to target the South Korean market follows the opening of the Incheon-Abu Dhabi International route by Etihad Airways which now operates the service daily,” said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, International Promotions Manager, ADTA.
“We have an expanded product portfolio to promote and a growing hotel guest base from South Korea on which to build.”
The delegation includes Etihad, voted “World’s Leading Airline” at World Travel Awards, tour operators, accommodation providers and destination management companies.
“Since opening up the pavilion to sharers, we were inundated with applications and could have more than doubled the size of the mission if more space was available,” explained Al Nuaimi. “This is a clear signal of the potential the Abu Dhabi market sees in the South Korean outbound sector.”
ADTA’s latest hotel guest performance statistics point to rising demand for the destination from South Korea. In the first four months of this year some 2,839 South Koreans stayed in the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments – a 118% increase on the same period last year. Growing UAE-South Korean business links as seen to be fuelling a demand which the industry now wants to build.
“We currently have several South Korean clients so have some brand awareness there but with the UAE becoming a major business hub for Korean industry which is involved with major government projects in Abu Dhabi, we want to gain more exposure and secure good potential business leads,” said Imad Diab, General Manager, Le Royal Meridien, Abu Dhabi.
South Korea is now producing business for both Abu Dhabi’s leisure and MICE sectors, according to Khalifa Al Ktebi, Managing Director of Darwish Bin Ahmed Sons Travel and Tours who predicts the market could soon be contending for a place amongst the emirate’s key source rankings.
“FITs and big MICE groups from Korea are now coming to Abu Dhabi. The Korean market is characterised by upmarket clientele who produce long stays yet are shrewd spenders who want value-for-money,” he explained.
“But there is no doubt that we now have the product to attract them with our golf courses, November’s Grand Prix, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the Sir Bani Yas island resort and Qasr Al Sarab desert resort. The time is right to source new partners in Korea for MICE, leisure and corporate travel to Abu Dhabi.”
Abu Dhabi believes its enhanced golf offering will resonate particularly well with the golf-mad Korean segment.
“Our golf offering now includes three championship-ready courses within a 25 kilometre radius; a floodlit, down-town facility, another 18-hole, all-grass course in our heritage city of Al Ain and an intriguing sand course close to the international airport – it is a highly distinctive and diverse offering which should set us apart,” added Al Nuaimi.
ADTA plans to soon have a Korean version of its consumer website – visitabudhabi.ae – and has produced destination collateral in Korean.