Hotel construction in Abu Dhabi is one of the most pressing factors for the capital’s tourism industry, according to HH Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).
Sheikh Sultan, who was addressing delegates at MEED’s Major New Project Opportunities in Abu Dhabi conference, said the targets were set for Abu Dhabi to more than triple visitor numbers, from less than one million in 2004 to more than three million by 2015.
He said: “To accommodate the expected growth in visitors, it will be necessary to increase hotel capacity greatly. We estimate there is a need to raise the number of hotel rooms from the present level of 8,000 to 25,000 by 2015.”
He announced that 4,000 new hotel/ furnished apartment rooms will be completed in Abu Dhabi over the next three years under investment packages agreed with the private sector. An additional 2,000 rooms have completed the first stage of the approvals process.
“Hotel construction is therefore a vital component in many of the developments already taking place – and planned – for the emirate,” said Sheikh Sultan. “We are keenly aware of the urgency of adding to Abu Dhabi’s hotel room stock to meet the expected growth in demand. In recent months, we have completed the approval process for more than 2,000 new rooms and momentum will pick up in the future.”
Sheikh Sultan pointed to the importance of tourism-led real estate development as driving the economic growth of the capital. “This is underlined by the fact it was the ADTA – rather than any other body – that has been the granted the rights to plan the development of Sa’adiyat Island as well as other tracts of development land.”
The ADTA, which was formed in September 2004, has an extended remit across all sectors of the industry, according to its chairman, who said this would allow the Authority to ensure tourism facilities “enhance the aesthetic environment”. He said: “Unlike many national and regional tourism agencies, our mandate gives us a comprehensive role that covers destination marketing, infrastructure and product development, as well as the licensing and classification of the tourism sector. In other words, we are involved in both the supply and demand sides of the industry, as well as quality control aspect. This gives us the full range of tools to plan Abu Dhabi’s tourism development effectively and harmoniously, whether it is an individual hotel, resort complex or fully integrated tourism zone.”
An example of private and public sector joint initiatives is the recently announced partnership between ADTA and the Al Jaber Group to develop a hotel and furnished apartment project between the two bridges linking Abu Dhabi island to the mainland.