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Thu 12 Nov 2009 11:56 AM

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Abu Dhabi eyes 2.3m tourists by 2012

Tourism chiefs also say they expect visitor numbers to hold steady at 1.5m in 2009 amid downturn.

Abu Dhabi tourism chiefs have set a new target of attracting 2.3 million hotel guests to the emirates by the end of 2012.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has said it expects tourist numbers to hold steady in 2009 at about 1.5 million visitors despite the impact of the global economic crisis.

Officials added that its adjusted targets now saw a 10 percent growth in tourists next year, with a further 15 percent predicted for both 2011 and 2012.

Having earlier this week clinched the World Travel Award for the world's best tourist board, ADTA has now unveiled a plan of "measured expansion" for 2010.

"We are fully committed to delivering value and performance for all stakeholders. The products and services we will deliver in carrying

out our mandate will be broader in scope, more rigorous and more effective. We will adapt to change and continue to look strategically ahead," said Mubarak Al Muhairi, ADTA's director general.

He added that strategy would be informed by the results of a 12 month visitor profiling exercise, due out next year.

More than 5,000 visitors will be interviewed on a range of issues including spending patterns, length of stay, accommodation preferences and activities, he said.

"Increasing competition within the international market place and particularly within our target high-end segment requires a corresponding sophisticated response for client fulfilment," said Al Muhairi.

ADTA also plans a major marketing campaign in 2010. It said it will see the roll out of specially-commissioned destination video footage and a major international advertising campaign.

A public relations consultancy has been appointed to represent the authority and the destination in the crucial UK and Ireland, as well as the emerging Scandinavian markets, ADTA added.

Last month, research firm STR Global said hotels in the Middle East region reported an eight percent drop in occupancy rates in September to just below 57 percent.

Dubai posted the largest decrease in average daily rates compared to September 2008, falling 8.3 percent to $175.62, followed by Abu Dhabi, which witnessed a 6.8 percent decrease to $200.52.

Abu Dhabi also saw a 16.9 percent drop in revenue per available room (revPAR) to $129.92.

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