Italian tourists are flocking to Abu Dhabi with the emirate state reporting a 23 percent jump in hotel stays from that market alone in the first seven months of this year.
It comes as Abu Dhabi announced efforts to ramp up tourist numbers coming from Lo Stivale, or the boot, as it is affectionately known, with an eight-member delegation to attend Italy’s prestigious TTG Incontri tourism show next month.
The figures showed from January to July this year 25,621 Italians stayed in Abu Dhabi's hotels and hotel apartments - a 23 percent rise on the first seven months of last year.
Together, Italian guests accounted for 129,678 guest nights, which was a year-on-year rise of 11 percent.
Italians rank amongst Abu Dhabi's longest stayers, with an average of just over five nights.
"We are witnessing ever greater numbers of Italians staying in our hotels - and they are among our longest-stayers, though we believe we can encourage even lengthier stay periods now that the destination has so much to see and do, Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director Overseas Offices and Promotions, TCA Abu Dhabi, said.
He said with excellent air connections - Etihad flies five times daily from Milan to Abu Dhabi and Alitalia operates five flights a week from Rome - there was great growth potential.
"This push comes as we are reaping the rewards of investment in Italy, where we operate a full-time representative office, and through our "ambassador" relationship with young Italian golfing legend, Matteo Manassero," Al Nuaimi said.
"If we can persuade the Italian trade of the sheer breadth of the emirate's expanded offering we are confident of building the length of stay upwards to seven nights.”