Abu Dhabi: The tourism sector in Abu Dhabi is expected to achieve around 15 per cent growth during 2014 to attract an average of 3.2 million tourists, industry experts said.
The figure marks an increase from the 2.8 million tourists who visited the emirate during 2013.
Rashid Abu Bakr, senior consultant at TRI Hospitality Consulting, attributed the expected increase to several factors, which include an overall growth in the international travel market throughout the past two years.
“There are also an increased number of tourists visiting Dubai, and this helped Abu Dhabi,” Abu Bakr said. “Of course, Abu Dhabi has been building up its infrastructure and we’ve seen new hotels open up, especially in Saadiyat Resort and Yas Island.”
He added that the general recovery of the business sentiment in the UAE has also helped boost tourism.
“In addition, the continued uncertainty in the Arab Spring countries [has] maintained the inflow of regional and international tourists from those affected locations to the UAE, which is perceived as a safer location,” Abu Bakr said.
He noted that the greatest number of tourists come from Europe and Asia, with the biggest markets being the UK, Germany, Russia, India, China, Korea, and the Far East.
As for the effect of tourism growth on the economy, Abu Bakr said: “Tourism has always been a growth sector for the UAE government especially for Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The impact comes in manifold, both directly and indirectly.”
He said tourist spending translates to increased revenue for retail and hospitality sectors, resulting in a greater gross domestic product (GDP).
Meanwhile, Zaida Ferre, director of sales at Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, said events such as the Formula One race at Yas Island Circuit and the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, as well as the construction of the Louvre and the Guggenheim museums, help attract international tourists to the emirate.
“Such increase in both the demand and the supply sides also creates more job opportunities, and translates positively on the country’s economy,” Ferre said.
Apart from leisure destinations, Abu Dhabi has become “one of the most important venues for business and global events, and this is attracting more and more visitors and tourists,” according to Salik Manjrio, sales and marketing director at the Park Hyatt Hotel.
He projected that 2014 will see an increasing number of tourists visiting the emirate for business and conference purposes.