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Abu Dhabi realises a 13% rise in visitor numbers from 2011

Strongest inflow from Africa while US and Canada proved Abu Dhabi’s longest stayers

Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News
Tourists during a visit to UAE Heritage Village in Abu Dhabi.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi:

Abu Dhabi last year received 2,388,023 hotel guests in its 136 hotels and hotel apartments – a 13 per cent rise on its 2011 performance and achieving its set target of 2.3 million guests. This made 2012 a record guest year for Abu Dhabi’s hospitality sector. The figures are revealed in Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) figures just out and show a 12% year-on-year rise in guest nights to 6,996,724. Hotel revenues for the period were also up — this time by 6 per cent — to Dh4.6 billion ($1.261 billion).

“This is a very satisfactory performance and gives us an excellent platform on which to now build for our 2013 target of 2.5 million guests,” said Shaikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman, TCA Abu Dhabi.

“Growth was recorded across all key markets with the strongest coming from Africa, the GCC, Middle East and Asia. With the recent opening of our latest power draw, Yas Waterworld, major new resorts opening shortly, our new on-the-ground representation in India and enhanced air access via Etihad’s new 2013 services from Washington DC and Sao Paolo, we anticipate continued improved performance going forward.”

During 2012 there was strong growth in the number of guests coming from Africa — which was up by a third on 2011 and was primarily influenced by arrivals from the Seychelles, which now has enhanced air access to the emirate via Etihad and air Seychelles, and also from South Africa. Improved GCC arrivals was mainly influenced by an upturn in guest numbers from Saudi Arabia, which rose 16 per cent year-on-year, from Oman, which turned in a 29% increase and Qatar which delivered 24 per cent more guests.

Greater uptake from China, the Philippines and India largely accounted for the enhanced performance from Asia, which rose 28 per cent year-on-year.

During 2012, hotel occupancy was 65 per cent, a slight decrease of 5% year-on-year with room revenue rising by 1% and the average room rate dipping by 8 per cent to Dh452.90 ($123.30). TCA Abu Dhabi says room rate decline is reflective of supply-and-demand fundamentals in a market which has seen a 16% increase in the number of rooms available.

Food & beverage revenues continued to hold their own outperforming 2011 by 12 per cent and amounting to Dh1.8 billion ($491 million).

Domestic tourism remained buoyant throughout the year accounting for some 888,241 guests — an 8 per cent rise on 2011.

During 2012, the UK remained Abu Dhabi’s largest international source market delivering 140,393 hotel guests — a slight 1 per cent rise on the previous year. India became the destination’s second largest international source market with 138,768 hotel guests — a rise of 28 per cent on 2011, with Germany taking third place with 96,802 guests representing a 42 per cent increase on the comparative period.

Major gains also came from Italy, which delivered 22 per cent more guests last year than in 2011 reflective on the new AlItalia services between Rome and Abu Dhabi and Russia, which saw a 40 per cent rise in guests.

“Air connectivity is a crucial element in achieving our deliverables and we look forward to the launch of Etihad’s planned daily service from Washington DC to Abu Dhabi this March to open up more opportunity from the US market,” added Shaikh Sultan.

Guests from the US and Canada are proving to be Abu Dhabi’s longest stayers with an average stay of 5.47 and 5.58 nights respectively