Tourists at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Hotel guest numbers reached 2.4 million in the first half of 2018, thanks largely to visitors from key international markets. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Hotels in Abu Dhabi saw a 5 per cent growth in guest numbers in the first six months of 2018 due to increase in the number of visitors from China, India and other countries, a senior official said on Tuesday.

“More leisure travellers are coming to Abu Dhabi aligned with the opening of theme parks and other attractions. We expect this trend to continue in the next six months with big events lined up like Formula one Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi art,” Sultan Al Mutawa Al Daheri, executive director of tourism sector in Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), told journalists in Abu Dhabi.

Hotel guest numbers reached 2.4 million from January to June this year as visitors from key international markets such as China, India, UK, United States, Egypt and Germany provided a boost to Abu Dhabi’s tourism market.

China was the leading source market for Abu Dhabi with more than 214,000 people from that country staying in the emirate, an increase of 15.8 per cent compared to the same period in 2017.

India ranked second with more than 196,000 visitors whereas the UK saw 12.9 per cent increase in visitors to reach more than 135,000 visitors from January to June.

United States posted a growth of 25.8 per cent in visitor numbers in the first six months of this year. Egypt and Germany also saw a growth of 4.6 per cent and 17.4 per cent respectively.

Visitors from Philippines and Saudi Arabia dropped during the period.

The department is also planning to target new markets like countries in East Asia to increase visitor numbers to Abu Dhabi, he added.

“Growing relations between UAE and other countries like China and India will also help in attracting more visitors to the emirate,” he added.

The department is targeting 5.5 million hotel guests in Abu Dhabi by the end of 2018.

Though hotel guests numbers rose during the six-month period but hotel revenue dropped by 4.5 per cent from January to June.

Average room rate and revenue per available room also showed a declining trend during the period. Officials attributed this trend to various factors including currency fluctuations and prevailing economic situation across the globe.

The number of hotel guests staying in Abu Dhabi rose by 6 per cent in June, compared to the same period a year ago, to reach 339,592 visitors, according to the figures released by DCT Abu Dhabi.

There are currently 162 hotels in the Abu Dhabi region, with 31,545 rooms with 46 five star hotels and 38 four star hotels, among others.

DCT Abu Dhabi announced a partnership with Airbnb, the online accommodation platform for short-term travellers and tourists, to promote UAE capital’s offerings.

The “Emirati Experiences” initiative offers visitors to the emirate a selection of 20 different tours and experiences designed and led by UAE nationals, to provide first-hand insight into Emirati culture, heritage and history.

“This collaboration with our friends at Airbnb to showcase Emirati Experiences on their hugely popular service makes perfect sense and is in line with our mandate to promote our emirate to the widest possible audience,” Al Daheri said.

Officials are still in discussions to introduce Airbnb’s services on renting homes and apartments in Abu Dhabi through the online platform.