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Abu Dhabi posts 17pc growth in hotel guests

Abu Dhabi, April 24, 2012

Abu Dhabi has registered double-digit growth in both hotel guests and guest nights during the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period last year, according to figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.

Announcing the emirate's record performance, Mubarak Al Muhairi, the director general of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority said, 'A total of 594,918 guests stayed in the UAE capital’s 130 hotels and hotel apartments from January to March end this year posting a 17 per cent increase over last year.

The guest nights too surged with a 10 per cent jump year-on-year over the same three-month period to stand at 1.725 million.

According to Al Muhairi, the guest arrivals growth was recorded across all key regional markets with the exception of North America.

Domestic tourism held up well producing 212,597 guests and 401,347 guest nights posting a growth of 11 per cent and 8 per cent on the comparative period last year. Strong growth also came from the GCC – which delivered 57 per cent more hotel guests than in the first quarter last year.

“The GCC is increasingly productive for us and we can look forward to further growth from this sector as Etihad, our national airline recently increased its frequency from Kuwait to Abu Dhabi by four flights a week and added an additional three weekly flights from Damman in Saudi Arabia to the UAE capital,” the tourism chief said.

“In addition, our on-the-ground presence in Saudi Arabia, which will shortly be formalised into a fully fledged office, is producing greater destination awareness and trade relationships and we will be reaching out to the Saudi consumer at next month’s Riyadh Travel Fair,” he added.

According to Al Muhairi, Saudi Arabia is now the emirate’s fourth most productive overseas source market for hotel guests with some 22,107 Saudi nationals staying in Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of the year, up 69 per cent over last year.

They accounted for some 49, 489 guest nights – again a 69 per cent increase on the same period in 2011, Muhairi said, citing official data.

Kuwait, Oman and Qatar also produced double-digit hotel guest and guest night growth for Abu Dhabi during the period, said the top official.

“Our GCC neighbours, with the exception of Bahrain, now rank among Abu Dhabi’s 'Top 25' longest-staying guests,” Al Muhairi added.

According to him, the hotel guest growth from Asia was up 37 per cent, driven largely by increased traction from China. Some 8,941 Chinese nationals stayed in the emirate’s hotels in Q1 – a jump of 86 per cent on the equivalent period last year - delivering 16,302 guest nights, a 61 per cent rise on last year’s January-through-March contribution.

“Having just completed a five city road show across China we are confident of building momentum from the country,” revealed Al Muhairi.

“This year has seen major advancements in air accessibility from China with Etihad introducing a five-times-weekly flight from Shanghai and striking partnerships with regional airlines within the Republic to expand our outreach,” he added.

During the first quarter this year, hotel guests from Europe climbed 17 per cent with much of the growth primarily influenced by Germany, which grew 46 per cent in terms of hotel guests to 27,751 and 40 per cent in guest nights to 114,006.

“We attribute Germany’s excellent performance largely to the substantial boost in air access delivered by Etihad’s opening, last December, of its Dusseldorf-Abu Dhabi route and we’ll benefit further by Air Berlin now flying thrice-daily, non-stop services to Abu Dhabi, including direct flights from Berlin and Dusseldorf,” added Al Muhairi.

The UK remains Abu Dhabi’s top performing hotel guest source market, though numbers slipped 2 per cent in the first quarter of the year compared to 2011. From January to March end, some 37,095 British stayed in the emirate’s hotels, translating into 159,216 guest nights, he stated.

According to Al Muhairi, India ranked second, accounting for 31,564 hotel guests and delivering 112,681 guest nights – a 15 per cent increase on Q1 last year.

However, the average length of stay during the first three months of 2012 slipped slightly, dropping 5 per cent to 2.90, he pointed out.

“This is now the focus of our efforts – to convince people that there is so much more to see and do in Abu Dhabi that they should extend their stay,” remarked Al Muhairi. “We are working hard on a trade engagement policy to improve distribution and dissemination of this message,” he added.

According to him, the occupancy rates dipped 6 per cent over the comparative period which the authority says is a simple result of supply and demand dynamics.

“We have more accommodation product in the market – which has increased choice and competitiveness to the traveller – an advantage we are now determined to leverage,” explained Al Muhairi.

The overall hotel revenues, he said, rose one per cent to Dh1.2 billion ($362 million), with the first quarter’s average room rate coming in at Dh500 ($136), he added.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: abu dhabi | tourism | India | hotels | GCC | UK | arrival | guest nights |

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