UAE tour operators visit Sir Bani Yas Island
Abu Dhabi, August 19, 2014
Top UAE tour and cruise excursion operators and destination management companies went on a two-day fact-finding visit to Sir Bani Yas Island, a former private nature reserve of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family in the emirate’s Wester Region - Al Gharbia.
The operators have dubbed its wildlife, heritage and adventure experiences as a powerful tool to create awareness of the emirate’s diversity and commitment to conservation, said a statement.
The tour was organised exclusively for members of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority’s (TCA Abu Dhabi) tour operator Industry Development Committee. The operators took in a wealth of wildlife and activity tours, conference facilities and the island’s three, five-star resorts operated by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas.
Several operators have confirmed interest in selling the island’s offering, including Jasem Zaiton, cruise Manager for tour operator dnata Gulf Ventures who was sold on the island’s environmental credentials and Alaa Khalifa, director of Salem Holidays & Business Development Manager at Salem Travel International.
Sir Bani Yas Island is home to the Arabian Wildlife Park which has more than 10,000 free roaming animals including one of the world’s largest herds of Arabian Oryx. This island’s clear surrounding waters are rich with marine life and its history makes for a compelling tale for travellers all of which, Jyoti Panchmatia, general manager of TUI Group’s Dubai-based Travco, saidcould change the way people think of Abu Dhabi.
“Much of our European clientele perceive Abu Dhabi exclusively as a winter sun destination with passengers looking for a beach based holiday. I will present Sir Bani Yas Island as an extension to Abu Dhabi and Dubai visits, and the breadth and diversity of the island’s offering will encourage longer stays.
“The island’s offering also allows us to think out of the box in relation to our MICE product with the wildlife and adventure activities shedding new light on team-building options.”
The tour came as tourism officials look to hone in on Al Gharbia’s largely untapped and unique potential.
Humaid Al Mheiri, TCA Abu Dhabi’s accessibility and tour operators unit head, said: “Al Gharbia is rich in landscape and natural resources. It has beautiful islands and desert and the stunning Liwa Oasis.
“Sir Bani Yas Island is its unique selling points and is now benefitting from non-stop Rotana Jet flights from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.”
The new developments in Al Gharbia – positioned as ‘Where The Desert Meets The Sea’ – include the tendering, by Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) for the lease of a land plot on Sir Bani Yas Island for the building of a four-star hotel, the inclusion of a beach stopover on the island by a major cruise line operator, while Abu Dhabi Airports Company is progressing plans to upgrade the island’s airport to international status allowing charter aircraft to land.
“These initiatives will increase accessibility to the island and bring it within easier and more affordable reach of an extended audience,” said Al Mheiri.
“There are developments too in the picturesque fishing village of Al Mirfa, currently served by a three-star hotel, where investment by Abu Dhabi Ports Company will increase the tourism profile of this peaceful spot. TCA will also open a dedicated visitor centre on the Saudi Arabia border at Al Gweifhat to inform the many tourists from the Kingdom, who arrive in Abu Dhabi by road, of the Al Gharbia places of interest.” - TradeArabia News Service