Stock Abu Dhabi skyline
Abu Dhabi's hotel sector has seen new additions and makeover for existing icons. The city is also going heavily into MICE to set up higher growth prospects. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Abu Dhabi is setting sights on 24 million visitors during 2023, and with it, a sharp spike in hotel occupancy levels.

Last year, there were 18 million visitors, as Abu Dhabi started to see gains from a recast tourism strategy that places a greater emphasis on offering local ‘experiences’ and as the place for global businesses and sectors to host conferences and exhibitions.

“The new targets follow a surge in Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector in 2022, with hotel occupancy rates and other metrics demonstrating that the sector’s revival is well underway,” said Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, Undersecretary at DCT (Department of Culture & Tourism) Abu Dhabi.

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The 18 million visitors represent a 13 per cent increase from 2021, while ‘hotel occupancy rates reached 70 per cent, which surpasses the Middle East average of 67 per cent’, said Al Hosani.

Of course, the Formula 1 week continues to be the big draw, not least for the post-race concerts and dos. And more high-profile global acts make up part of Abu Dhabi's carefully crafted strategy for the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Abu Dhabi Calendar last year hosted over 100 events during a 180-day period, featuring a 'line-up of A-list global talent', which included Sting and the K-pop act BLACKPINK, and Oscar-winning Indian composer A. R. Rahman.

"We are committed to deliver on our ambitions for 2023 by further elevating the successful strategy of creating and delivering unique experiences for everyone to enjoy," said Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry, Director General for Tourism at DCT Abu Dhabi. "This is complemented by a MICE industry that continues to thrive, owing to the emirate’s world-leading venues, hotels and supporting facilities."

Who's visiting?

The highest number of international visitors arriving from India, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the US. "The improved domestic and international market performance can be attributed to increased destination awareness and consideration of Abu Dhabi’s increased range of year-round entertainment and sporting events, as well as trade events and roadshows," said the DCT - Abu Dhabi statement.