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Tue 22 May 2007 11:31 AM

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Abu Dhabi sets out its meetings target

Abu Dhabi expects 1.5 million meetings-related tourists per year by 2015.

Abu Dhabi expects to attract at least 1.5 million meetings-related tourists per annum by 2015, according to the emirate's Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC).

"Abu Dhabi has a long-term vision for the meetings industry and we are confident we can create products which will differentiate us on the international stage and attract repeat and sustainable business," explained Bassem Terkawi, PR and events manager, TDIC.

"A substantial number of projects which have been given the go-ahead such as The Lagoon Club and The Quay have dedicated convention and meeting room facilities with investors having realised the potential for business gatherings. We anticipate the meetings and business tourism segment will, by 2015, account for at least half of our projected target of three million visitors."

He was speaking to

after the TDIC announced plans to build a new "landmark" beach resort, convention centre and office/residential complex - The Lagoon Club Hotel and Residences - on Abu Dhabi's Corniche, in conjunction with Mazrui Holding Company. The AED 1.4 billion (US $400 million) project, which will be located east of the existing Hilton Abu Dhabi, will boast a 380-room five-star hotel, to be managed by Hilton's luxury brand, Conrad Hotels; 80 furnished apartments; an office building; 3500m² of retail space; parking for 1800 cars, a 2000-seat convention centre; and a health club and spa, all set around a central 10,000m² lagoon.

"This project is a major asset going forward in Abu Dhabi's claim as a credible meetings and business tourism destination. It will have particular international appeal in providing professional meetings facilities within a showcase beach resort setting in a capital city, which retains a strong B2B focus," said Terkawi.

He said there were many "similar world-class projects in the pipeline" which would be announced in due course.

"There will be considerable concentration on the capital city, but venues will also be announced in other parts of the emirate so that we have a diverse offering, taking in our coastline, desert hinterland and oasis towns," Terkawi added.

He also noted that the second phase of the new Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) was on the cards, to include an iconic tower and a new micro-city of residential and commercial towers. When completed in 2008, ADNEC will provide 55,000m² of interconnected exhibition floor space, making it one of the region's largest trade show venues.

Terkawi said there was "definitely a trend towards mixed-use developments" and that Abu Dhabi had a number of "distinct tourism targets".

These included "upscale visitors, sun and sand lovers, cultural followers, adventure seekers and the meetings and business segment".

"We are now seeing an increase in the number of developers combining various facets to satisfy these target markets," he said. "For example, our first partnership deal with the Al Jaber Group includes a resort complex with 230 rooms, 228 apartments and full meeting facilities."

Forthcoming hotel projects from the Shangri-La, Rotana and Abu Dhabi National Hotels would also combine resort environments with extensive meeting and event facilties, he explained.

"What is particularly heartening is the way the private sector is now partnering government and semi-government institutuions in providing the necessary infrastructure to fulfill our business tourism ambitions," Terkawi added.

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