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Aug 03
Southwest Asia
Abu Dhabi increment in tourist by first half 2010

Abu Dhabi, tipped by leading travel guides Lonely Planet and Frommer’s as a top 10 destination to visit this year, is upping its leisure tourism proposition as it readies to open Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – the world’s largest indoor theme park – just ahead of November’s staging of the second Formula 1™ Eithad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

A delegation from the destination – which is on track to exceed its 2010 target of 1.65 million hotel guests, a 10% rise on last year – was in Jeddah today to outline its advancing leisure tourism proposition to the travel trade and media.

“We’re looking to do business with leisure operators and will incentivise them to create innovative packages which will encapsulate these headline events,” said Dayne Lim, Product Development Director, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which organised the road show.

“This will be a defining year for leisure tourism in Abu Dhabi which has traditionally been heavily reliant on the business tourism segment,” explained Lim. “While we naturally are looking to maintain and build on our MICE business, we believe we now have the product and the service back up to increase our foothold in the leisure sector.”

Lim said ADTA is looking to talk to operators to discuss incentives, such as ticket allocations, to drive forward its leisure potential.

“We are looking to work with those who can see an opportunity to gain a foothold in an emerging destination of distinction. Our visitor offering is set to increase substantially as we head towards the opening of major beachfront resorts and the 2013 launch of the much anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi,” said Lim.

Abu Dhabi’s leisure offering has been boosted this year by the opening of two 18-hole championship-ready golf courses. The Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, on the signature Saadiyat Island, is the Arabian Gulf’s only ‘ocean’ course, designed by Gary Player. Yas Links, on Yas Island was designed by Kyle Phillips and has eight holes running along the coastline with all 18 holes having fabulous Arabian Gulf views.

The Abu Dhabi road show featured a number of leading destination stakeholders. They included: Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management, which manages the state-of-the-art Yas Marina Circuit home to the Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which will take place on November 14 this year;  ALDAR, one of Abu Dhabi’s leading developers and the name behind Yas Island, the UAE capital’s emerging entertainment hub which is home to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and its Formula Rossa – the world’s fastest rollercoaster – due to open October 28th ; Abu Dhabi National Hotels, which is building the Grand Canal Abu Dhabi, the 500-room Italian-themed resort rising on the beachfront in Abu Dhabi’s fashionable Between The Bridges district and Etihad Airways, the award-winning national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Saudi Arabia is currently ranked as the 8th most productive hotel guest market for Abu Dhabi, and its largest GCC market, with the Kingdom accounting for 18,601 guests in the first five months of this year across the emirate’s 116 hotels and hotel apartments – a rise of 29% on the same period last year.

“We are convinced we can significantly build on this performance over the coming months,” said Lim.

Abu Dhabi’s current hotel guest profile has an 80/20 business/leisure ratio with ADTA officials saying the equation should head towards a more balanced demographic of 60/40 by 2012 end. Abu Dhabi has strong air links with Saudi Arabia with Etihad flying to Abu Dhabi International Airport daily from both Jeddah and Riyadh.

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