Record number of tourists visit Abu Dhabi this year: Saif Ghobash

ABU DHABI, 14th October, 2018 (WAM) — Saif Saeed Ghobash, Under-Secretary of the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi, expects the tourism sector in Abu Dhabi to witness the economic effects of the city’s stature as a major international tourism destination by the end of the year with a record numbers of tourists this year.

In an interview with Etihad that was published today, Ghobash said that the opening of new tourism destinations will add to Abu Dhabi’s attraction and attract new types of tourists, who are interested in enjoying family-oriented destinations, along with business and shopping.

“New tourism destinations provide various options for visitors while giving them the opportunity to visit different destinations located in nearby areas. We are expecting a positive impact of these new destinations by the end of this year, as the Louvre Abu Dhabi will be celebrating the anniversary of its first opening in November. By the end of the year, Warner Brothers Abu Dhabi will also be six months old, and we will evaluate these new experiences,” Ghobash said.


He added that there are positive indicators that highlight the sector’s expected level of performance in the coming months, whether in terms of local or foreign visitors, which include achieving a record numbers of hotels visitors that could exceed last year’s numbers of five million visitors in the three regions of the emirate, which mainly came for international events, such as the Formula One Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi Art, the launch of the Al Hosn Palace and the Abu Dhabi Food Festival.

Ghobash added that there are many plans to develop the tourism sector in Al Ain and Al Dhafra that will be launched soon, including the development of historic sites and supporting their local tourism services sectors.

During the first eight months of 2018, hotels in Abu Dhabi achieved a growth of 5.8 percent in terms of numbers of guests compared to last year, with 1,323,239 visitors. A total of 162 hotels, resorts and hotel apartments in Abu Dhabi received 477,606 guests in August, up by 45,000 compared to the same month last year.

Regarding the department’s plans to increase the Emiratisation rate of the tourism sector and encourage UAE citizens to get involved in the tourism sector, Ghobash said that the department is supporting Emiratisation by training UAE nationals in the tourism sector while adding that the Emirati Experiences Programme has organised over 20 trips, led by the UAE’s nationals.

He further added that the programme has evoked considerable interest among Emirati youth, both male and female, who conduct tours related to local culture and history, such as the Zayed Tour, which takes visitors to historic areas in Al Ain that witnessed key moments in the life of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, as well as the tour of Bait Al Oud, which includes a visit to the Arab Music Institute, the Emirati Ladies Experience, the Emirati House Experience, and the Pearl Journey.

Ghobash affirmed that DCT Abu Dhabi is preparing to launch a new licencing system for practising businesses related to tourism, which is expected to generate considerable interest, as it is connected to the Emirati heritage.

Regarding the major challenges facing the tourism sector in Abu Dhabi, Ghobash affirmed that the department is working closely with its partners in the sector to overcome these challenges while pointing out that they previously suggested a policy to reduce the tourism and municipality fees paid by hotel establishments, which was adopted in July.

“We are monitoring the results of the adoption of the VAT refund system that aims to encourage the return of tourists and lower hotel prices, which is one of the key challenges facing the sector. We are cooperating with our partners to suggest solutions for achieving price flexibility and lower accommodation costs,” he added.

Ghobash said that the department is currently organising meetings, conferences, exhibitions and other tourism events, and there is full consistency between holidays and business travel by 51 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

Regarding foreign markets, Ghobash explained that the department’s foreign offices across ten countries continue to organise promotional tours in key cities around the world, with the UK topping its list of countries, as the number of British tourists increased by 8.5 percent during the first seven months of 2018, while another key market, China, garnering attention, with the number of Chinese tourists increasing by 13.8 percent during the same period.

He also highlighted that the number of tourists from Saudi Arabia, the United States, and India, had increased significantly while pointing out that the department is promoting the emirate in global tourism and travel conferences.

Regarding technological development and the role of the department in adopting advanced technologies to promote tourism, Ghobash stated that the department has prioritised technological development, both, through its digital platforms and campaigns, and also by developing the “Abu Dhabi Culture” application, which lists the emirate’s historic sites and heritage, touristic and entertainment experiences.

“We are currently developing the content of our promotional campaigns to better express the uniqueness of the tourism experience in Abu Dhabi, through real stories and people. The department recently won two awards at the International Tourism Film Festival Maldives, ITFFM, for its global promotional campaign, ‘Abu Dhabi – Your Extraordinary Story’.

Ghobash noted DCT Abu Dhabi’s triumphing in the 2018 Pacific Asia Travel Association Gold Award for the ‘Marketing – Secondary Government Destination’ category in July. The DCT Abu Dhabi Under-Secretary went on to say that the ‘extraordinary stories’ campaign attracted a record number of visitors over the past two years, and is based on a series of films that tell the stories of the Emirati people.

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