No competition with Dubai for tourism cash – Abu Dhabi


Abu Dhabi is not looking to compete with Dubai for tourism revenue, the chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has said on Sunday.

Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan said Abu Dhabi was focused on attracting “five-star travellers” and would not target the mass tourism market.

Sheikh Sultan said the emirate wanted to tap niche markets where visitors would spend “10 times more” than average tourists.

“It is not about mass tourism here [in Abu Dhabi]. We are focused on the niche markets. But you need to remember one cultural visitor might spend 10 times more than a holiday visitor would spend,” he said, speaking on the sideline of the launch of the ADTA’s five-year plan for Abu Dhabi’s tourism industry.

The ADTA said it would focus on beach, nature, culture, sports, adventure and business tourism.

Sheikh Sultan said Abu Dhabi was taking a “managed approach” to its tourism industry.

He said the emirate had looked from the Indian subcontinent to North Africa to learn from other countries’ tourism strategies.

Under the five-year plan, Abu Dhabi plans to increase the number of hotel rooms in the emirate to 25,000 by the end of 2012 to cope with a projected 2.7 million annual tourists.

The ADTA said the figures were a significant increase of previous forecasts made in 2004, which projected 21,000 hotel rooms and 2.4 million tourists by 2012.

Currently Abu Dhabi has around 12,000 available hotel room and 1.4 million tourists visiting the UAE capital annually.

To spur this growth, the ADTA said it planned to open international offices in seven countries by 2012, including Australia, China and Italy. The ADTA already has offices in the UK, Germany and France.

The authority plans to roll out some 135 initiatives aimed at enhancing “product integrity”, including the introduction of a new hotel classification star rating system, it said.

Visa restrictions will be simplified as well to make it easier for people to visit the emirate, it added.

Abu Dhabi is currently building numerous tourism attractions, including the Yas Island Formula One race track, the boutique Desert Islands Resort on Sir Bani Yas Island and the Qasr Al Sarab desert retreat in the Liwa Desert.

The emirate is also building five museums on Saadiyat island, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi contemporary arts museum, a performing arts centre, a maritime museum and a number of arts pavilions.