By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi National Hotels chief reveals expansion plan to boost tourism numbers.
Abu Dhabi is looking to develop eco-friendly desert resorts, similar to the popular Al Maha in Dubai, as part of expansion plans to boost tourism in the UAE capital.
Abu Dhabi National Hotels said on Tuesday that it was carrying out feasibility studies into setting up the resorts.
Saif Mohammed Al Hajri, chairman of ADNH, said in comments published by news agency WAM: "Such desert resorts will attract many tourists from Europe."
Speaking at the Gulf Travel and Incentives Exhibition and Conference (GIBTM) at Adnec in Abu Dhabi, he also said the second largest hotel development to be built in the UAE will open by the end of 2010.
He said the Grand Canal Abu Dhabi, which will be operated by JW Marriott, was on track to open by the end of this year.
The resort will feature a Venetian theme enhanced by waterways and canals reminiscent of the historic Italian city.
It will include 500 rooms and suites, 169 branded service residences, 85 villas and 10 overwater villas - each with its own mooring dock for yachts of up to 30 metres.
The hotel known as Grand Canal will add to the quality of the leisure tourism in the emirate of Abu Dhabi as it is inspired by the architectural Italian city of Venice.
"Grand Canal owned by Abu Dhabi National Hotels constructed on the sea coast, will add a new dimension to green tourism and will be considered one of the most beautiful touristic resorts not just in the UAE but also in the Gulf and the Arab region," Al Hajri said.
He also announced that ADNH will open Park Hyatt hotel on Saadiyat Island in the first quarter of 2011.
"The company will not stop and will not defer any of the projects that have been agreed upon, for the full conviction that there is a promising future awaiting the tourism industry in Abu Dhabi and the UAE," Al Hajri said.
He said the company would continue to focus on future expansion, adding that the decline in travel rates in Abu Dhabi was "temporary".
He also predicted that the high number of hotel rooms in Abu Dhabi would lead to a fall in prices.
"This comes in the interest of tourists and motivates everyone to improve services to visitors from inside and outside the state," he said.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.