Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) Abu Dhabi on Saturday welcomed the launch of airBaltic’s programme to operate direct flights between Riga, Latvia, and Abu Dhabi. As part of the initiative, four-weekly flights between the two cities will operate for five months until 24 March 2018. Inaugural flights landed in the capital on 30 October.
It will also provide Baltic visitors from Tallinn, Estonia and Vilnius, Lithuania a more convenient opportunity to travel to Abu Dhabi. This programme is a result of Abu Dhabi’s ongoing promotional efforts in the Baltic markets focused on positioning the Emirate as a leading tourism and business hub in the region.
Over the past years, the Emirate has witnessed a strong upsurge in travellers from the Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, with an increase of 25 per cent in the number of visitors in 2016 compared to 2014. This year, Abu Dhabi hosted 13 per cent more overnight guests and recorded an increase by 12 per cent in guest arrivals compared to the same period in 2016. Recognising the potential for further growth, the DCT carried out a series of educational activities, including fam trips, sales calls, and seminars for dozens of trade agents in each of the Baltic markets. With Air Baltic, a leading regional air carrier with vast regional routes, and its new programme, visitor numbers are expected to rise by up to 60 per cent this year, and overnight guests to grow by 100 per cent.
Sultan Al Mutawa Al Daheri, Acting Executive Director, DCT, said, “Over the past year, we have developed a carefully thought-out strategy focused on identifying key tourism markets that do not yet have direct links to Abu Dhabi, and implementing a plan targeted at showcasing the benefits of our capital to private sector players there. We are thrilled that due to our efforts, companies like airBaltic are seeing the value we have to offer as a tourism and business destination, and are independently directing plans that connect the UAE capital to more markets around the world.”
Visitors from the three Baltic countries also benefit from a visa-on-arrival policy, in addition to a code-share agreement with Etihad Airways, which will give them unparalleled access to countries around the world. “By including the capital’s national carrier in the Abu Dhabi/new programme, Abu Dhabi can also become the gateway for our Baltic guests to travel to many other countries in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Australia,” added Al Daheri.