A record 4.875 million people stayed in Abu Dhabi’s 162 hotels and hotel apartments during 2017, meaning the emirate recorded an impressive 9.8% year-on-year rise.
Figures released by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT) for its hospitality sector reveal that the number of guests staying in Abu Dhabi city during the year rose by 10.3% to reach 4,295,030 across its 131 hotels and hotel apartments, which provide 26,821 rooms.
The Al Ain Region recorded a 5.5% increase to 450,328 guests across its 20 hotels and the Al Dhafra Region rose 8.2% to number 130,180 guests at its 11 hotels and hotel apartments.
HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, DCT, said: “Record numbers of people are visiting Abu Dhabi year after year and we continue to go from strength to strength in positioning ourselves as a distinctive global tourist destination steeped in culture and heritage. A near double digit year-on-year growth in the number of guests staying in all three regions of the emirate is testament to our drive and determination in helping the emirate evolve into a ‘must-visit’ place on any traveller’s itinerary.
“Abu Dhabi’s unique cultural archetypes, combined with diverse natural landscapes, cultural and historic sites, dynamic family-leisure entertainment and ambitious business opportunities, will continue to stimulate visitation and help us grow by 11 per cent per annum to achieve 8.5 million visitors by 2021. However, we more than ever aware of the challenges we face in supporting key metrics such as length-of-stay and occupancy rates for the emirate’s hotels and are working hard to continue the focus on these measures.”
Throughout 2017, key overseas markets continued to perform well with guests from China surging year-on-year by 60% to number more than 372,000 to be Abu Dhabi’s largest overseas source market, with the numbers swelled by the easing of visa restrictions and Chinese visitors now receiving visas on entry in the UAE.
India is the second largest international source market with more than 360,000 guests recorded during the 12 months, an increase of 11%. The United Kingdom remains the largest European source market, registering a 13% rise to more than 270,000 while the United States’ market also showed a considerable rise of more than 23%.
Domestic tourism from within the UAE increased 2.6% to number slightly over 1.5 million hotel guests.
The emirate benefited throughout the year from a packed calendar of events, with the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi on November 11 being the highlight and garnering worldwide headlines. The museum, built in collaboration with the French government, instantly became an iconic landmark on the city’s geographical, cultural and tourist landscape and is expected to attract huge numbers of cultural tourists.
Other notable events included the hosting in October of WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017, the world’s largest vocational skills competition at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), which attracted 100,000 participants and spectators during the three days of competition. The Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was again a resounding success with 195,000 spectators watching proceedings over the four days, while annual events such as the Mother of the Nation Festival, Abu Dhabi Summer Season and Chinese New Year celebrations also swelled domestic and international visitor numbers.
A particularly strong December saw 480,845 guests staying in the emirate, a 17.6% rise compared to the corresponding month in 2016, with numbers boosted by the holding of three prestigious events, the Abu Dhabi Food Festival, Dar Al Zain Festival and the New Year’s Countdown Village.
Guests from France increased by 61%, the numbers supplemented by the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi, while other key source markets also performed well with the numbers of American guests rising by 54%, China 39%, India 29%, the UK 22% and Germany 12%.
Domestic tourism in December also showed a noticeable increase of 4.4%. An expanded portfolio of events across the emirate throughout this year is expected to further boost guests visiting Abu Dhabi from other emirates.
HE Ghobash added: “Combined with our ongoing international marketing and promotional activities and our excellent collaboration with strategic partners, including our national airline Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi Ports, we will continue to evolve and lead Abu Dhabi’s tourism proposition to achieve new levels of excellence; implementing new initiatives and working closely with the private sector, while striving to achieve new record numbers of hotel guests.”