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Tue 6 May 2008 04:00 AM

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Great expectations for Emirates capital

Abu Dhabi's hotel industry looks set for a shake-up, with a raft of legislative changes tipped for the UAE's capital city.

Abu Dhabi's hotel industry looks set for a shake-up, with a raft of legislative changes tipped for the UAE's capital city.

Following announcements that Dubai would soon be overhauling its licensing and classification scheme, it appears Abu Dhabi is set to follow suit.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has earmarked changes to the classification system to provide clear criteria for hotel licences.

ADTA product development division director Dayne Lim Kok Chun said there was still "a lot of communication and education that needs to be done" before the changes are implemented.

"I think from the discussion we have had with stakeholders - obviously this is something which is new to them - but overall the message we are getting is that it is something that is timely and overall will be good for the industry," he said.

"The way we have positioned it is not so much from a regulatory point of view, but for us to be able to say to visitors coming to Abu Dhabi that there are certain standards we set out for, and we tend to deliver on."

Chun said the emirate would take more time before introducing timeshare regulations in the future.

"This [timeshare regulations] is something which is more at the exploratory stage," he explained.

"You are not just talking about tourism, you are also talking about real estate and land issues, so it is something I would say is still at an exploratory stage."

And those expecting a short-term rise in the number of mid-market and limited service accommodation products in Abu Dhabi would be disappointed.

"Both in terms of economics, and the developments in the pipeline, for the foreseeable future the majority of project developments here are going to take place towards the higher end of the scale, and in that regard it is not a bad strategy to go for," Chun said.

"The primary segment that we are going for are in the more fluid and affluent market segments, and a large number of projects have therefore been pitched at the high end. They are going to be presenting the emirate of Abu Dhabi as being able to present a higher rate of return, which in turn will make it attractive for overseas and international investors to invest here."

Under the ADTA's five year plan - announced last month - the emirate is forecast to have 25,000 rooms by the end of 2012, an increase of 13,000 rooms on its current stock. The ADTA has also teamed up with the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry to allow hotels, hotel apartments and spas to renew their licences or obtain new licenses online. The online facility is expected to streamline the current process.

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