Abu Dhabi Image Credit: File photo

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi welcomed 10.27 million international visitors in 2018, with the emirate also posting figures showing incredible growth over the last three years, Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) said on Wednesday.

The numbers were boosted by the addition of a number of events and enhancements to all of its specialised tourism sectors, improvements to its infrastructure and significant development of its cultural assets.

DCT Abu Dhabi said more than 10 million visitors came to the UAE capital last year, made up of both day-trippers and overnight guests, with the hotel guests increasing by 3.94 per cent compared to 2017 at one of the emirate’s 168 hotels or hotel apartments.

The key markets of India, the US and China have all posted double-digit growth for hotel guests in 2018 with India and China remaining the two top markets for overseas visitors and UK — the top European source market.

“We are incredibly pleased to see these positive metrics, as year on year we have exceeded the already ambitious targets set for Abu Dhabi’s growth,” Mohammad Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman at DCT Abu Dhabi said in a statement.

“We are now firmly established as a world-class cultural destination. With the emirate’s natural beauty as a stepping off point, Abu Dhabi has steadily enhanced its touristic and cultural proposition until today, visitors can now enjoy incredible options in entertainment — both sporting and artistic — retail, dining and hospitality, as well as top class cultural venues for visual and performing arts experiences. The soaring visitor figures we have seen are evidence of the increase in global appeal of our emirate.”

He also said they looking forward in 2019 to hosting the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi.

“We have also courted cruise tourism with the opening of the new Mina Port and the Bani Yas Island beach cruise stopover. We have also just signed a memorandum of understanding with the Emirates Medical Association to tap into the booming sector of medical tourism.”

The first component of the ambitious Saadiyat Cultural District, the first universal museum in the region attracted more than 1 million visitors in its first year and put Abu Dhabi on the world’s ‘cultural map’.

The reopening of the Al Hosn site was also a significant event for cultural tourism in Abu Dhabi, with the oldest building in the emirate, now a museum showcasing Abu Dhabi’s history and Emirati culture, reopening to great acclaim in late 2018.

The cruise sector provided more than 350,000 visitors to the emirate in 2018.