Abu Dhabi a magnet for Saudi tourists

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is proving to be a stellar performer this year in producing guests for Abu Dhabi’s hotels and hotel apartments, according to the emirate’s tourism authority.Figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) show that some 49,807 Saudi nationals stayed in the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments in the first five months of this year — a massive 70 percent increase over the same period last year.Saudi Arabia now ranks 11th in Abu Dhabi’s hotel guest source market league, according to the ADTA.Abu Dhabi is going out of its way to woo Saudi tourists, said Yasin Alireza, a Jeddah-based Saudi businessman.“Usually they used to go to Dubai. Now many are heading toward Abu Dhabi,” he said, commenting on the latest figures.“Many Saudi sports people are attracted to golf, car racing and fishing which are now easily available in Abu Dhabi,” he added.

A Saudi golfer said he and his wife enjoyed the trip to Abu Dhabi last March.“We played golf all day and enjoyed dining out at night.”He also urged Abu Dhabi’s tourist authorities should do more to attract Saudis.The ADTA statement said Abu Dhabi’s hotel guest source market league continued its strong performance in the first five months of this year with increases in guest numbers, guest nights, occupancy, revenue and length-of-stay.The authority’s strategy and policy director Lawrence Franklin said “An improved product and attractions line-up with Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the Yas Island show weekends, more golf courses, upscaled desert and island resorts and the impact of Etihad Airway’s essential Abu Dhabi stop-over incentive are resonating with the Saudi traveler,” said the authority’s strategy and policy director Lawrence Franklin.“This can only improve as we ready to open a slew of first-class resorts, many of which upscale our beach offering, and prepare to leverage the recent accreditation of Al Ain, our Oasis City as a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” Franklin added in a statement.

Abu Dhabi’s hotel guest numbers climbed 10 percent from January to May end compared to the same period last year rising to 866,501, while guest nights climbed 26 percent to 2,615,503.The statement said occupancy increased 10 percent to 71 percent, revenue was up six percent to AED1.9 billion ($513 million) while average length-of-stay expanded by 15 percent to just over three nights.“Increased destination competitiveness with average room rates falling 15 percent year-on-year for high quality product has contributed to our appeal,” added Franklin.“Hotel stays in Abu Dhabi are now more affordable than other established upscale destinations including Dubai, Paris, Sydney, New York, Rome and Tokyo.”Abu Dhabi’s year-to-date hotel occupancy and rev-par performance is also stronger than many global cities including Beijing, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Madrid and Tokyo.

Despite a decline in average room rates, hotel room revenues increased by five percent.“The destination is, though, gearing up for a hectic final quarter which sees the opening of no less than 10 new major luxury properties – many upscaling our beach offering — as well as a packed events program surrounding November’s third staging of the F1Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix; December’s celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the UAE and ADNEC’s hosting of World Green Tourism conference and exhibition culminating in a grand year-end finale with the hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet and the major activations surrounding this which will make Abu Dhabi the Middle East destination to be in to welcome in 2012.” – Arabnews