Fee cuts seen to spur Abu Dhabi tourism boom

 khaleejtimes.com  7/13/2018 10:01:00 PM  2  Issac John /Dubai

Driven by a surge in visitors, particularly from China India, Europe and the US, the number of hotel guests staying in Abu Dhabi rose by 4.9 per cent during the first five months of 2018 compared to the same period last year.

Statistics from the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) show that the emirate's 162 hotels, resorts and hotel apartments offering 31,236 rooms welcomed 2,073,586 guests during January to May.

Saif Saeed Ghobash, undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, said the steady growth proves the capital's ability to realise its strategic goals of positioning the emirate as a leading global destination, through forward-looking marketing and promotional campaigns that seek to sustain growth.

"We continue to promote awareness of Abu Dhabi's tourism and leisure attractions and authentic cultural heritage, as well as its highly-developed business and convention infrastructure," said Ghobash.

He said Abu Dhabi's tourism and hospitality sector is booming following a decision to cut tourism and municipal fees, implementing a reduction from six per cent to 3.5 per cent on tourism fees; a drop from four per cent to two per cent for municipality fees; and lowering the municipal fee for each hotel room from Dh15 to Dh10. This amendment, which became effective on July 1, is expected to encourage investors to build tourist and cultural attractions, and organise events, elevating the emirate's status as a leading tourist destination, DCT Abu Dhabi said.

"This decision encourages investments across Abu Dhabi's tourism and hospitality sector and enhances its competitiveness by bettering the economic value we offer our visitors for our quality services and attractions," Ghobash added.

The new move will also help Abu Dhabi attract more visitors and increase occupancy rates, revenues and the average length of stay, and thus increase the tourism sector's contribution to the UAE's GDP and reach economic diversification targets. "We are dedicated to conveying a clear message to visitors in our target markets, inviting them to explore Abu Dhabi and enjoy the exceptional recreational, cultural and family experiences it offer," said Ghobash.

Ghobash said he expects to see significant momentum across the tourism sector in the coming months with the opening of new leisure establishments and resorts such as Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi on Yas Island from July 25, and Jumeirah's luxurious Saadiyat Island Resort in November.

Hotel occupancy rate has averaged 75 per cent during January to May, with a 1.4 per cent increase, while the average length of stay was 2.7 nights, an increase of 2.4 per cent compared to the same period in 2017, with China topping the number of visitors, recording 192,500 visitors, an increase of 19.9 per cent, DCT Abu Dhabi said in a statement.

Indian visitors were second at 166,700 with a 22.2 per cent increase, followed by the UK with 119,900 amounting to a 12.7 per cent increase, the United States with 82,300 guests and a 25.7 per cent increase, and Germany with 71,300 guests at a 20 per cent increase.

Domestic tourism rose by 7.9 per cent during the first five months of 2018 with 1,489,154 hotel guests received, compared to 1,371,327 during the same period in 2017.

While the Abu Dhabi Summer Season will run until August 18, the second half of 2018 will witness prominent events such as the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Art in November, and the Abu Dhabi Food Festival in December.

- issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com

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