Abu Dhabi tourism authority heads East as it courts China


Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), the apex body that manages the tourism industry in Abu Dhabi, the largest of seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates and home to the country’s capital, is to mount a dual-destination South East Asian road show this month laying the groundwork in advance of its planned opening of a representative office in China.

The authority, with exhibition, real estate, travel and tourism and charter airline partners, will participate in two key exhibitions as it reaches out to China’s huge outbound market, which last year accounted for more almost 41 million overseas trips according to World Tourism Organisation (WTO) statistics.

ADTA, together with Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), Net Group, Aldar Properties and destination management company DBA Travel & Tourism, will be at the International Travel Expo (ITE) in Hong Kong from June 12-15. The authority will then partner Aldar Properties, Emirates Palace, Royal Jet and the Net Group for its debut at the Asia Luxury Travel Market (ALTM) in Shanghai from June 16-19 where it already has 84 scheduled appointments lined up with top South East Asian travel buyers.

“Both events were chosen for their ability to cover the fast-growing South East Asian markets and their capacity to deliver targeted audiences and influential contacts with whom we can exchange ideas and outline our plans to engage the region,” said His Excellency , director general, ADTA.

Last year some 11,655 corporate and trade visitors attended ITE in its first two business days and 53,000 turned out on its public days.

“China’s potential is enormous, and with the country now identified by the WTO as likely to be world’s largest outbound producer in total travel spent by 2015, it is a market we cannot afford to ignore,” added Al Muhairi.

Last year Chinese tourists accounted for almost 41 million overseas trips and the WTO is predicting the figure could rise to 100 million by 2020.

“These two exhibitions will assist us in reaching an increasingly affluent outbound market,” said Ali Ahmed Al Hosani, director of promotions, ADTA. “Travel has become a lifestyle essential for the Chinese middle class which makes up 20% of the population and who are now spending, according to the WTO, between 10 and 15% of their annual income on travel. The WTO has now ranked Chinese tourists as among the world’s highest spenders per criteria on overseas travel with an average amount spent of over US $1,000.”

China is one of three destinations which ADTA is targeting for the opening of representative offices this year – the others are Italy and Australia. They will join an ADTA overseas office network, which currently includes the UK, Germany and France. The offices are integral to the ADTA’s five-year strategic plan which aims to deliver 2.7 million hotel guests annually to the emirate by the end of 2012.

“Representative office destinations are selected in reference to the growing network of Abu Dhabi-headquartered Etihad, the national airline of the UAE,” explained Al Muhairi.

Etihad currently flies four times a week from Abu Dhabi to Beijing.