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Tue 11 Nov 2008 04:00 AM

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Cowboy town's ceasefire

Abu Dhabi's regulation of room rates will help industry win business.

It was heartening to hear that the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) plans to regulate hotel room rates during the forthcoming Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC).

It may have been unwelcome news to profit-hungry hoteliers in the emirate, but would have certainly put a smile on the faces of all those involved in the meetings industry.

The event, which takes place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from November 3-6, is one of the world's largest for the oil and gas sector and therefore a major coup for Abu Dhabi.

The shortage of inventory in Abu Dhabi normally results in major price hikes during large events such as this - a factor that has dissuaded some companies and associations from staging their events in the UAE capital in the past.

However, imposing such regulatory measures sends out positive signals to the meetings industry worldwide that Abu Dhabi is fair, professional and shaping up to be one of the leading conference and exhibitions destinations globally.

The ADTA has also ensured that guests who had already booked rooms at higher rates during the relevant period will be refunded the price differential.

Regulating rates will stamp out cowboy behaviour amongst hoteliers in Abu Dhabi who until now, have been all too happy to make hay while the sun shines and although the UAE prides itself on being a laissez-faire market, this is a situation where intervention will secure the long-term future of the emirates as a meetings industry hub.

The government is hoping that in the long run, when additional inventory comes online, the market will be able to regulate itself without any intervention at all. In the meantime, all eyes are on Dubai to see if ministers will follow Abu Dhabi's sensible lead.Gemma Greenwood is the senior group editor of ITP Business' travel & hospitality magazines.

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