Another record year for Abu Dhabi tourism

Yas Waterworld is Abu Dhabi’s newest tourist power draw

ABU DHABI recorded 2,388,023 hotel guests in its 136 hotels and hotel apartments last year, a 13 per cent rise on its 2011 performance and achieving its set target of 2.3 million guests.

The figures are revealed in Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) figures just out and show a 12 per cent year-on-year rise in guest nights to 6,996,724. Hotel revenues for the period were also up – this time by six per cent – to Dh4.6 billion ($1.261 billion).

“This is a very satisfactory performance and gives us an excellent platform on which to now build for our 2013 target of 2.5 million guests,” said HE Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman, TCA Abu Dhabi.

“Growth was recorded across all key markets with the strongest coming from Africa, the GCC, Middle East and Asia. With the recent opening of our latest power draw, Yas Waterworld, major new resorts opening shortly, our new on-the-ground representation in India and enhanced air access via Etihad’s new 2013 services from Washington DC and Sao Paolo, we anticipate continued improved performance going forward.”

During 2012 there was strong growth in the number of guests coming from Africa – which was up by a third on 2011 and was primarily influenced by arrivals from the Seychelles, which now has enhanced air access to the emirate via Etihad and air Seychelles, and also from South Africa. Improved GCC arrivals was mainly influenced by an upturn in guest numbers from Saudi Arabia, which rose 16 per cent year-on-year, from Oman, which turned in a 29 per cent increase and Qatar which delivered 24 per cent more guests.

Asia saw a 29 per cent year-on-year growth with an increase in arrivals from China, the Philippines and India.

During 2012, hotel occupancy was 65 per cent, a slight decrease of five per cent year-on-year with room revenue rising by one per cent and the average room rate dipping by eight per cent to Dh452.90 ($123.30). TCA Abu Dhabi says room rate decline is reflective of supply-and-demand fundamentals in a market which has seen a 16 per cent increase in the number of rooms available.

During 2012 the UK remained Abu Dhabi’s largest international source market delivering 140,393 hotel guests – a slight one per cent rise on the previous year. India became the destination’s second largest international source market with 138,768 hotel guests – a rise of 28 per cent on 2011, with Germany taking third place with 96,802 guests representing a 42 per cent increase on the comparative period.

Major gains also came from Italy, which delivered 22 per cent more guests last year than in 2011 reflective on the new AlItalia services between Rome and Abu Dhabi and Russia, which saw a 40 per cent rise in guests.

“Air connectivity is a crucial element in achieving our deliverables and we look forward to the launch of Etihad’s planned daily service from Washington DC to Abu Dhabi this March to open up more opportunity from the US market,” added Sheikh Sultan. Guests from the US and Canada are proving to be Abu Dhabi’s longest stayers with an average stay of 5.47 and 5.58 nights respectively.