Sultan Al Dhaheri said the emirate’s attractions will position Abu Dhabi as a competitive tourist destination. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi is targeting 5.5 million hotel guests in 2018 as it plans to attract leisure tourists and position the capital as a competitive market, a top official of Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi said on Tuesday.

In 2017, Abu Dhabi attracted 4.8 million tourists resulting in nearly Dh5 billion in revenue including that from hotel and food and beverages.

“We will be targeting 5.5 million hotel guests in 2018 with majority coming from our key markets. We will be running roadshows and promotion activities in GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) also,” said Sultan Al Dhaheri, executive director of tourism sector in Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi.

In 2017, most of the tourists came from China, followed by India, United Kingdom, Philippines, USA and Egypt. Chinese visitors accounted for about eight per cent of the total visitors. There has been a big growth in Chinese and Russian travellers due to introduction of visa-on-arrival facility for tourists from these two countries.

Cruise tourism also helped the jump in the number of visitors with 346,000 cruise passengers undertaking cruise trips. Around six cruise ships are homeporting in Abu Dhabi’s cruise terminal, with Europeans constituting most of the cruise passengers. The Department is targeting 370,000 cruise passengers in 2018.

The opening of Warner Bros project in June would also boost tourism in Abu Dhabi, he said. “There will be more attractions to position Abu Dhabi as a competitive tourist destination.”

Department of Culture and Tourism has 10 offices overseas including in some of the key markets like India, Germany and China and they are planning to open more.

Asked whether the newly-opened Louvre museum was a key factor in the increase in the number of tourists, he said, “I cannot correlate the exact impact of Louvre to increase the length of stay or number of visitors but it highlighted Abu Dhabi quite well in international platforms.”

Abu Dhabi would also be targeting Indian weddings with plans to fly in special wedding planners from India.