Armed and ready with innovative initiatives and ground-breaking developments, Abu Dhabi is all set to make its presence known in the global travel and tourism sphere. Aleksandra Wood writes.
Abu Dhabi has had a momentous year thus far, having acquired rewarding figures and positive feedback on its innovative touristic offering and its unprecedented roster of events.
The emirate is ever confident in both its appealing assets and its approach to luring travellers in from around the world.
“One of the most enduring factors that consistently puts Abu Dhabi on the wish-lists of international travellers is its rich diversity,” CEO, Emirates Park Zoo & Resort, Joanne A. Hanne illustrated. “Not only is the UAE capital diverse in terms of its family of residents, but also in culinary options, entertainment and events, cultural experiences and exciting activities.”
The UAE capital does not play it safe when it comes to its unrivalled cultural and leisure activities, with the likes of the spectacular Al Dhafra region, the adrenaline-pumping Yas Island destination, the architecturally genius Louvre Abu Dhabi and the iconic Grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque enticing travellers year-round.
“Being able to present visitors with a sense of the history and traditions of Arabic and Emirati culture in a modern, accessible way, is also one of the most appealing qualities of Abu Dhabi,” Hanne added.
In order to boost its non-oil GDP revenue streams and, in turn, establish itself as a cosmopolitan capital, Abu Dhabi has zeroed in on innovative approaches to transform its tourism industry. With initiatives in place that foster local talent, as well as the introduction of internationally recognised brands, the emirate’s strategy has already brought forth outstanding results.
The second quarter of 2019, in particular, was notably fruitful, having recorded a four per cent increase in hotel guests and a 3.7 per cent hotel revenue increment, in comparison to the same period the previous year.
Hospitality entities across the emirate are noticing the upward trend, as director of sales, The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Ricardo Gomes told TTG: “The first quarter was definitely a milestone in the history of the hotel, as we delivered the best Q1 performance ever since the hotel’s opening in 2013. Not only did we leverage on all the events which took place in Abu Dhabi during the first three months of the year but, despite having a very busy hotel, we still managed to keep a very high level of service.”
In recent years, Abu Dhabi has been focused on presenting locals and visitors with an impressive calendar of events, inclusive of AFC Asian Cup, Olympics World Games, Retail Abu Dhabi (RAD) shopping festival and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as well as a range of new and exciting attractions and developments.
Behind the capital’s impeccable strategy is a dedicated governmental entity, namely the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, as well as a committed team of travel and tourism stakeholders, who are on a mission to fortify Abu Dhabi’s economy and make the destination more globally integrated with new and exciting developments.
“The on-going expansion of the airport and growing additions to Yas Island and Saadiyat Island, both in terms of hotels and entertainment attractions, are already positioning the capital to be the foremost destination for tourists within the wider GCC region,” Hanne of Emirates Park Zoo & Resort remarked.
Other key attractions that have been unveiled this past year include Qasr Al Watan, also known as the ‘Palace of the Nation’, and the Al Hosn cultural site, the oldest stone building in the city of Abu Dhabi, which further elevate the emirate’s cultural prowess.
Meanwhile, director of sales and marketing, Gromaxx Hotels Management, Diyana Chimlyarova explained to TTG that the latest talk of the town is the new mega project, The Guggenheim Museum, which is set to begin in 2020.
She further noted: “Al Qana, a new dining and entertainment destination, will open its doors in Abu Dhabi at the close of 2020, comprising a range of features such as the Middle East’s largest aquarium, a Virtual Reality park, an outdoor skatepark and much more.”
Abu Dhabi’s famed Yas Island will also witness major launches in the approaching year, according to vice president of sales, Experience Hub, Bruno Wiley: “Last year, we witnessed the successful opening of Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi and, coming soon in 2020, is the 18,000-capacity Yas Bay Arena, as well as ‘CLYMB’, which will be home to the world’s tallest indoor climbing wall and largest indoor skydiving chamber.”
Moving away from attractions and focusing on transport, last month, Etihad Aviation Group made headlines with the announcement of Abu Dhabi’s premier low-cost airline, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, which has been developed in partnership with Sharjah-based Air Arabia.
Etihad Aviation Group’s CEO, Tony Douglas stated: “This exciting partnership will offer our guests a new option for low-cost travel to and from Abu Dhabi, supplementing ourown services.”
These game-changing developments have called upon hospitality entities to step up their game and keep up with the emergence of new trends.
Abu Dhabi’s recent efforts to build solid partnerships between the public and private sectors has seen a shift towards the development of eco-friendly tourism venues, given the awareness of the global environmentally conscious traveller trend.
In light of this, Emirates Park Zoo & Resort is on a mission to transform into a zero waste venue by 2020, as well as expand its commitment to animal welfare by hosting events to raise funds for conservation projects, in cooperation with the emirate’s government, and tackling ongoing issues such as the illegal trade of animals.
Hanne elaborated: “Emirates Park Zoo is in the middle of a lengthy expansion strategy that began two years ago. Whilst we currently welcome just under one million visitors annually, our rescue, conservation and eco efforts have necessitated a commitment to growth that will see the size of the zoo nearly double over the next few years, with some unique new exhibits and experiences.”
Hanne further revealed that renovations of The Resort at the park are ongoing. In early 2019, new luxury family chalets were launched, which aim to facilitate the rise in family tourism in the emirate.
On the other hand, Yas Island has tapped into a whole new travel trend of its own – micro-trips. Travellers have been opting for quick, ‘bite-sized’ yet curated itineraries, which offer a more customised experience, thus prompting holidaymakers to visit Abu Dhabi on a more frequent basis.
Experience Hub’s Wiley said: “Travellers are also seeking destinations that offer opportunities to discover new cultures, create shareable memories and live out novelty experiences. When considering our visitors from Europe, we have found that these trends all hold true.”
Industry-wide positive sentiments, paired with the determination of industry movers and shakers, have placed Abu Dhabi on a tourism pedestal. The emirate will continue its journey to become a world-class capital, with its dauntless strategies leading the way.