Abu Dhabi predicts 2.7 million annual visitors

Al Muhairi

A FIVE year plan from the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) revealed that by 2012 the projected annual number of hotel guests in the emirate will be 2.7 million - 12.5 per cent more than initially envisaged.

The plan from 2008 to 2012 also calls for the emirate to have 25,000 hotel rooms by the end of 2012 end, meaning Abu Dhabi’s hotel stock will jump by 13,000 rooms on its current available inventory.
Six areas of priorities were defined as sector standardisation, tourism experience enhancement, improved transport and visa processing, increased international marketing, further product development, and preservation of the emirate’s culture, values and traditions.
“The plan has emerged after an extensive strategic planning process which addressed the incredible opportunity Abu Dhabi has to capitalise on its advantageous location, natural assets, climate and unique culture,” said His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, chairman, ADTA.
 “The five-year plan is based on the overriding principle of managing growth and ensuring that tourism not only benefits our valued visitors, but also our people – whether national or resident, investors and our society at large,” said His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, ADTA.
“By adopting this highly considered approach we will deliver on our core brand value of respect, expand and improve our international reputation, create increased opportunities for investment partners, develop a skilled workforce of home grown talent serving a vibrant new sector, significantly upgrade services and ultimately deliver an intuitive visitor experience differentiated from all others.”
Abu Dhabi last year received some 1.45 million hotel guests, was named one of the world’s top ten destinations by the UK’s largest online travel agent and won the World Travel Award for the Best New Tourism Destination.
“Our product focus will continue to concentrate on beach, nature, culture, sports, adventure and business tourism and considerable support services will be required for these sectors – opening up new horizons for local, national and international investors on both big ticket and small-to-medium enterprise scales.”
To enhance product integrity ADTA has drawn up some 135 initiatives within two years, the most imminent of these will be the introduction of a hotel classification star rating system developed in close consultation with the private sector.
Al Muhairi said, “We are also working towards streamlining regulations and enhancing their awareness, compliance and boosting online licence application and renewal capability.
“A collaborative approach will address improved access to the emirate across the full range of transportation as well as immigration,” said Al Muhairi.
“We also intend to enhance tourism sector research, partnering the industry and our stakeholders, including universities and industry institutes, to produce relevant research, such as sector skills assessment and requirement forecasts.”
Also on the cards are plans for seven additional ADTA representative offices in new markets by 2012. Australia, China and Italy are being targeted this year joining an existing network of offices in the UK, Germany and France.
Next year the authority will participate in 17 overseas trade forums which will rise to 25 a year in 2012. It will also pursue increased destination awareness by utilising and expanding on a range of promotional tools including familiarisation trips, workshops and road shows.
There are also plans to co-operate with the education sector to develop hospitality and tourism-related degrees, programmes and specialised training while the authority is hoping to add at least seven major international events in the next five year to its portfolio.
Al Muhairi said Abu Dhabi will expect an increase in visitor numbers towards the end of 2009 when major infrastructure projects such as the Qasr Al Sarab desert retreat in the Liwa Desert, the boutique Desert Islands Resort on Sir Bani Yas island, the Park Rotana Hotel, the Yas Island Formula One race track, the Par 72 Saadiyat Beach Golf Course, designed by Gary Player come on line.