Abu Dhabi tourism aims for 2.7 million visitors by 2012


Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (eTN) – The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), the apex body that manages the tourism industry in Abu Dhabi (the largest of seven emirates within the United Arab Emirates and home to the country’s capital city), has raised its hotel guest projections for the coming five years from the original targets set in 2004. The upgrade, revealed in the authority’s five-year plan 2008-2012 unveiled April 20, putting projected annual hotel guests at 2.7 million by the end of 2012 – 12.5 percent more than initially envisaged.

The new target also calls for the emirate to have 25,000 hotel rooms by 2012 end – 4,000 more than originally forecast. The plan means the emirate’s hotel stock will jump by 13,000 rooms on its current available inventory.

“The plan has emerged after an extensive strategic planning process which addressed the incredible opportunity Abu Dhabi has to capitalize on its advantageous location, natural assets, climate and unique culture,” said His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, ADTA chairman.

He added these assets including safety and security levels and care for the environment in the emirate make Abu Dhabi an excellent destination for frequent visitors.

However, the success of the strategy will depend on ADTA’s working relationships with other team player partners to meet local and international demands, Sheikh Sultan said.

In the process of development, Abu Dhabi becomes an ideal destination for culture and business activities with new targets to be achieved by focusing on priorities such as sector standardization, tourism experience enhancement, improved access through transportation and visa processing upgrades, increased international marketing, further product development and capitalization and preservation of the emirate’s distinctive culture, values and traditions.

ADTA is taking a conservative approach to guest targets to ensure the destination has the necessary infrastructure in place to satisfy demand and proceeds at a pace which will preserve its secure environment and much-valued cultural heritage.

“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 ADTA director-general Mubarak Al Muhairi. He said ADTA will tap into the expatriate markets, and not limit themselves to visitor traffic, for whom the emirate will establish excellent education and training platforms in preparation for future employment.

ADTA’s development since 2004 has been phenomenal. However, Al Muhairi said he believes further cooperation with tourism partners will increase development opportunities in the area.

Achievements of late by the ADTA include opening representative tourism offices in Europe, which strengthened the position of Abu Dhabi as a destination, as well as the launching of the Saadiyat Island and a large number of hotel brands. The authority has embarked on a journey that includes tourism promotion online – making the emirate scoop tourism awards. The journey however isn’t over as several projects are still in the pipeline, complying with 175 initiatives launched by the government.

“Major involvement by the private sector and the implementation by the public sector of the plans will ensure momentum for quality improvement. We assure the ease in processing paperwork and the granting of permits. Another priority of ours is the classification system of hotels and eight major tourism projects to be completed this year,” said Al Muhairi, underlining again the need for human resources training.

Al Muhairi said they will introduce more quality surveys in order to get feedback from consumers. There will also be increased number of flights on local airline Al Etihad Airways, as well as increased marketing campaigns abroad including 17 travel fairs (with a view to increase to 25 in the next five years) with the opening this year of tourism offices in the UK, France, Germany, Italy Australia and China.

“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,” said Al Muhairi.

ADTA will work on serving the leisure travel segment alongside the MICE market through collaboration with ADNIC, its sole partner in this field.

The plan is closely aligned to, and totally reflects, the Abu Dhabi government’s intention of maintaining and enhancing its confident and secure society in an open, global and sustainable economy and one which is diversified away from hydrocarbon dependency. This is in line with the direction of Their Highnesses Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi and General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Al Nahyan said: “As our economy evolves, we have an opportunity to become an internationally recognized business and leisure destination. However, along with this comes a responsibility to ensure that we develop a tourism strategy that respects our culture, values and heritage and supports other government initiatives, including the attraction of inward investment. We believe our new five-year plan addresses this potential and need for accountability.”
The strategy will hone in on the true and genuine Arab culture, which a fast-progressive city like Dubai has slowly lost touch with due to the billion-dollar development contracts it races to fulfill in the shortest amount of time, Al Muhairi closed.