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1.7m guests check into Abu Dhabi hotels during first half

1.7m guests check into Abu Dhabi hotels during first half

Abu Dhabi’s hotels and hotel apartments reported their best half year performance yet in terms of hotel guests, guest nights, and revenues, with occupancy reaching 77 per cent, according to the Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA).

In a statement released on Tuesday, TCA reported that 1.7 million guests checked into the emirate’s accommodation during the first half of this year, marking a 28 per cent increase over the same period last year.

The arrivals delivered nearly 5.15 million guest nights — a 22 per cent uplift compared to the first half of 2013, with occupancy climbing eight per cent year-on-year.

Christopher Hewett, senior consultant at TRI Hospitality Consulting, commented on such increase saying, “In general, Abu Dhabi is becoming more popular as a tourism destination as more people are seeing it as an affordable and attractive destination in comparison to Dubai.”

He added that the expansion in Etihad Airways’ network is also bringing more tourists to Abu Dhabi including international tourists who transit in the emirate for a few days in between their travel between east and west.

With other Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt and Lebanon facing political tension, tourists are beginning to see the UAE and other GCC countries as even more attractive destinations. As for the outlook for Abu Dhabi, Hewett said it was positive, adding that new attractions such as Yas Mall and the museums on Saadiyat Island will help increase the number of tourists and their average length of stay.

“We’re starting to see average rates bottom out; they’ve been facing a challenge over the past couple years where average rates have been declining. However, our statistics show that there has been growth in average rates over the past four months, so we anticipate by the end of the year that average rates are going to bottom out if not increase,” he told Gulf News.

The statement released by TCA also attributed the bullish half year performance to a jump in year-on-year figure for the month of June, which saw guest arrivals increase by 14 per cent to 264,203.

Jasem Al Darmaki, deputy director general at TCA, commented on H1 figures saying, “The occupancy increase should also be viewed alongside the fact that the number of hotels in the emirate in June this year stood at 154 with a total of 27,405 rooms against June 2013 when there were 145 hotels accounting for 25,270 rooms.”

He added that there was an increase in the number of guests from the UAE market, the GCC, China, Russia, India, France, Germany, and the UK.

The results for H1 leave Abu Dhabi well-placed to attain its 2014 hotel guest target of 3.2 million, according to Al Darmaki.