Abu Dhabi: With Etihad Airways’ daily non-stop flights to Washington DC being launched in March 2013 and increased on-ground trade engagement and promotional activities by Abu Dhabi in North America is expected to attract more US visitors to the emirate in the future, said leading American travel professionals, who were in Abu Dhabi as part of an eight day comprehensive tour organized by the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and Etihad Airways, the United Arab Emirates’ national airline.
“Simply put, more air access to Abu Dhabi from the US is going to spur increased interest, and with options to get there from the major hubs of New York, Chicago and soon to be Washington DC is going to be extremely helpful in selling the destination,” said Nicole Beattie, Destination Manager of Cox & Kings, which has offices across North America.
Etihad currently operates daily non-stop flights to Chicago and New York, and will start daily flights to Washington, DC next year. Abu Dhabi has welcomed 58,574 US hotel guests in the first nine months of this year, with September alone seeing a 19 percent increase in US hotel guests over the same month in 2011. It makes the US the sixth largest inbound market for Abu Dhabi in 2012.
TCA Abu Dhabi also opened its dedicated US office last May, which is based in New York’s Trump Tower.
“My perceptions of the emirate have certainly changed from being here, away from thinking of Abu Dhabi as a business destination and more to it being one of leisure,” said Beattie.
The tour included many of Abu Dhabi’s leading leisure hotels and cultural products, in addition to a trip to Yas Island and the Yas Marina Circuit. The group also got a glimpse of the emirate’s future, earmarking the upcoming Cultural Distinct on Saadiyat Island - which will see its three core museum projects, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi come online from 2015 - as a key driver for future North American guest draw.
“Once the museums and cultural elements on Saadiyat Island come online, Abu Dhabi is going to be a much easier sell for customers for sure,” said Justin Smith, Product Manager at Travcoa, which is based in California.