The year 2018 was a great success for the UAE capital city in terms of tourist numbers.
According to the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the emirate welcomed 10.27 million international visitors, including day-trippers and overnight guests, from January to December.
Over the past three years, the emirate has witnessed incredible growth – a result of an increase in events and enhancements to its tourism portfolio, infrastructure and cultural assets. Abu Dhabi has witnessed great development across all areas of tourism, including cultural, business, family-focused and medical sectors, with the cruise sector contributing over 350,000 visitors to the emirate in 2018. Meanwhile, the destination’s cultural assets attracted more than 2,672,732 people to the emirate.
Also contributing to the overall tourism growth of the emirate are new cultural institutions such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Qasr Al Hosn site, which recently reopened, as well as the launch of several high-profile events and initiatives.
Abu Dhabi’s key markets last year were India, the US and China, all of which posted double-digit growth in 2018, as well as the UK, which is the top European source market.
Chairman, DCT Abu Dhabi, HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak commented on the results: “We are incredibly pleased to see these positive metrics, as year-on-year we have exceeded the already ambitious targets set for Abu Dhabi’s growth. DCT Abu Dhabi has made extraordinary strides since its inception, and a snapshot of the last three years gives an even clearer indication of the strength of the emirate’s growth and standing on the global stage. We are now firmly established as a world-class cultural destination.”
Al Mubarak continued: “The past three years have seen countless significant additions to Abu Dhabi’s structural, touristic and cultural landscape. Most prominent amongst these include the recent reopening of the Al Hosn cultural site, which now offers visitors new experiences of heritage and artistic creativity, and the stunning Louvre Abu Dhabi. The annual Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has gone from strength to strength and has attracted millions of visitors to the emirate since it launched in 2009.”
He explained that other entertainment options, such as Warner Bros World, have also proven popular with overseas visitors, while on the business side, the emirate has had considerable success thanks to Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau securing high-profile conferences and events.
“Since 2009 we have welcomed thousands of delegates from overseas to our conferences, meetings and exhibitions, which have included such notable successes as the World Skills event, which took place in 2017 and attracted more than 100,000 visitors to Abu Dhabi from a multitude of overseas schools and universities,” he said. “As a mark of how far we’ve come, we’re also looking forward in 2019 to hosting the biggest humanitarian event in history when we welcome the Special Olympics to Abu Dhabi.”
Meanwhile, the cruise sector has also been fundamental to the UAE capital’s tourism success over the past three years. Following the launch of the new Abu Dhabi cruise terminal, as well as the Sir Bani Yas Beach development, Abu Dhabi has witnessed an increase of 27.82 per cent in cruise passengers. 279,704 cruise passengers visited Abu Dhabi in 2016, compared with 354,015 in 2018. Also, during this time from 2016-18, some 963,257 cruise ship passengers disembarked at Abu Dhabi.
Finally, the city’s healthcare sector has also been a focus for the emirate. Last year, DCT Abu Dhabi joined forces with the Department of Health to launch medical tourism initiatives to benefit the growth of the sector in the UAE capital.