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Fri 2 Dec 2011 09:58 AM

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Abu Dhabi eyes 5m tourists a year by 2021

Tourism chief reveals vision of world class destination; says growth will slow in next decade

Abu Dhabi eyes 5m tourists a year by 2021
An artists impression of the new terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport, which will help the UAE capitals tourism growth plan

Abu Dhabi is expecting to attract more than five million tourists a year in a decade's time, the director general of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has said.

Mubarak Al Muhairi said he hoped to see a “destination that is recognised as world-class across a number of metrics” by 2021.

Currently, the ADTA director general said the emirate is on track to achieve its “stretch two million” visitor target by the year end, Hotelier Middle East reported.

He acknowledged that the growth rate would be faster than global estimations, but less than the growth rate achieved by Abu Dhabi historically.

Al Muhairi said: “[2021 is] a long way ahead and as the past two years has shown globally, forecasting can be an inexact science — though at ADTA we appear to be rather good at it achieving our hotel guest targets year-on-year — though we do take a relatively conservative and measured approach to growth.

“But if I try to cast my vision ahead to the next 10 years, I hope to see a destination that is recognised as world-class across a number of metrics, namely events, infrastructure, service standards, private-public sector participation and in the preservation of culture and heritage.

“In terms of hotel guest growth, we are on course this year to attain our stretch two million target with guests staying in some 20,800 available rooms."

He added that he expected guest arrivals to grow to 3.2 million by the end of 2015, followed by average growth of eight percent to 2021 and beyond.

"This is twice the estimated global growth rate but significantly less than our double digit historical growth,” Al Muhairi added.

“On this basis we forecast that in 2021 we may exceed 5 million guests annually which ties in nicely with 50 years of the UAE. If this scenario pans out, in 2021 we will have grown year-on-year by in excess of 400,000 guests.”

According to the Abu Dhabi 2030 Plan, the emirate’s goal is to evolve from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based one, and to boost the non-oil share of the economy to more than 60 percent of GDP, from just over 40 percent today, with tourism a major component in the plan.

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