Hotel guest figures in Abu Dhabi hit record levels in July, with a 38% uplift in guest numbers and a 35% rise in guest nights, according to statistics from the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) released today.
GCC and wider Arab region arrivals increased significantly, attributed to GCC travellers opting to spend time in a safe destination and more people choosing to holiday in July ahead of Ramadan. However, Lawrence Franklin, strategy & policy director at ADTA, acknowledged that a slump in room rates had made the destination more competitive with average room rates down 15% on July 2010 to AED 372.55 (US $102).
In July some 189,486 guests stayed in the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments, accounting for 507,612 guest nights. The performance pushed occupancy levels up 9% to 65% and overall revenue up 6% to AED 271 million (US $74.2 million).
Regional guest arrivals led the performance surge with those from the GCC, not counting UAE guests, soaring 98% on the same month last year to 19,828, and from the wider Arab market increasing by 44% to 22,383,.
Both Europe and Asia recorded 28% month-on-month comparison returns. GCC travellers accounted for 39,087 guest nights – up 124% month-on-month and other Arab national guests represented 54,190 guest nights – a monthly comparative increase of 33%.
“The destination also benefited from tactical product and promotional activities. This included across-the-board advertising and a regional road show which engaged both the GCC media and trade partners in neighbouring countries.
“The one disappointment was a fall off of 2% in the average length of stay to 2.68 nights, which we anticipate being rectified in the coming months with our heightened infrastructure and events offering,” said Franklin.
Saudi Arabia produced the highest movement with a 130% surge in hotel guests to 10,766 making the Kingdom the most significant source of business for the month outside domestic tourism, which increased 34% to 84,444. Kuwait also produced treble digit growth of 129% with 2,070 Kuwaitis staying in the emirate during July and Qatar accounting for a 69% month-on-month increase representing 3,307 guests.
“There is no doubt that the GCC is proving to be receptive to Abu Dhabi’s expanding tourism and events proposition. ADTA and its stakeholders will look to further grow region returns via additional marketing initiatives. These will include a destination road show across Saudi Arabia and Qatar planned for October, which will spell out Abu Dhabi’s dynamic events programme for the next five months and its increasingly expansive hospitality offering, which will see a slew of luxury beachfront resorts, city centre hotels, expanded retail offer and visitor attractions coming on line,” added Franklin.
Over the next five months Abu Dhabi is expected to deliver the Monte-Carlo Beach Club Saadiyat, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas, The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, Jumeirah Etihad Towers, Rocco Forte Abu Dhabi, the expansive Ritz Carlton Grand Canal Abu Dhabi, Hyatt Capital Gate and the Wadi Adventure waterpark in Al Ain.
In November the UAE capital will host the third F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Art, which for the first time will be held in the UAE Pavilion which attracted over two million visitors at this year’s World Expo in Shanghai and which is being re-erected on Saadiyat Island. In December the destination will host World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi and the year-end arrival of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, which will see the city host a fortnight of celebrations in a purpose-built destination village on Abu Dhabi Corniche. The celebrations, which include in-port racing, will run into the new year and will quickly be followed by the PGA European Tour-backed Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Tournament.
“It’s action all the way over the coming months which we anticipate will see us achieve our 2011 stretch target of 2 million hotel guests, a rise of 10.5% on last year, and leave us well placed to begin 2012 on a high,” said Franklin. “We will also be aided by expanding air access with the Czech carrier CSA entering the market with four Prague-Abu Dhabi flights a week from September 21 and Etihad, the UAE’s national carrier, launching a four times a week, no-stop service from Chengdu, China’s south-west economic hub in mid December.”
The first seven months of this year has seen Abu Dhabi welcome 1,231,290 hotel guests – a 15% increase on the same period last year, which equates to 3,604,233 guest nights.
Year-to-date occupancy levels are up 10% to 70%, revenues are up 6% to AED 2.53 billion (US $690 million) and the average length-of-stay is up 11% to 2.93 nights. The UK remains the top international source market with a 21% increase in guest nights to 354,155. The US comes in second place at 282,510 – a 26% year-on-year rise and India third representing 235,695 guests – up 52% on 2010.
“India is proving an increasingly productive source market which we will activate further with our first trade and media road show across three Indian cities being staged mid September in conjunction with stakeholders,” explained Franklin. “France and Germany are also proving to be stalwarts with year-on-year increases of 27% and 17% respectively.”