Abu Dhabi's Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA) will lead a 50-strong contingent to ITB Berlin to showcase the best of the emirate’s hotels, resorts, attractions, tour operators and destination management companies, says Mubarak Al Nuaimi, director of promotions and overseas offices, TCA Abu Dhabi.TCA Abu Dhabi, which had been at consecutive shows for the past 10 years, provides a platform for stakeholders to present their products to an international travel trade audience and German consumer alike. Participation is also aimed at increasing the awareness of the emirate through meetings with key trade and media representatives, but also through activities at the stand targeting German consumers, says Al Nuaimi in an interview with TTN.Referring to the tourism business in Abu Dhabi during the last year, he says hotel guests from Germany were up 7 per cent in comparison to 2014 and reached a new record of almost 150,000 hotel guests in 2015. German hotel guests – who stay for four nights on average – generated almost 620,000 guest nights. Germany is the sixth largest international source market for Abu Dhabi. Al Nuaimi says: 'Right across the board we can look back on good figures for 2015 but still face plenty of challenges in 2016. Fundamental changes are, however, becoming clearer.' The German market is growing with cruises and long-haul trips while the bread-and-butter business of the big tour operators in particular – package holidays to short- and medium-haul destinations – is stagnating. Moreover, crises in destinations such as Egypt and Tunisia and weaker demand for major destinations such as Turkey are impacting business. A structural change is also taking place. Hotel portals such as Booking.com are forcing their way into holiday destinations, and Airbnb is turning into a booking platform for holiday homes, and probably soon small hotels, he explains. Year 2016 will not be an easy one for tour operators, he warns. Bookings have been weak since the terror attacks in Paris and with an uncertain world political situation and the refugee crises in Germany, customers are apparently waiting with their holiday plans for 2016. In addition, a 20 per cent fall in the euro against the dirham last year has a further negative impact. 'One thing is clear: even in times of crisis Germans will not give up on their holidays but are either changing holiday destinations or types of holiday taken,' he says.As part of its strategy to cope with the tough conditions, Al Nuaimi says that TCA Abu Dhabi – which has a new chairman in Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak – will continue to cooperate with tour operators, national carrier Etihad Airways and partner airberlin by implementing joint marketing programmes and hosting major trade events in Abu Dhabi such as the Dertour Live Experience scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2016. A strong focus will also be put on media promotions to further increase the positive awareness of the emirate, he adds.
By K S Sreekumar