• Growth reflects tourism, cultural and business sector appeal
  • India, UK and China lead international guest arrivals
  • Emirate’s hotels welcomed 1.4million domestic tourism guests
  • 169 properties now boast in excess of 30,000 rooms

Abu Dhabi achieved record numbers of hotel guests in 2016 according to year-end figures gathered by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)

More than4.4 million guest arrivals were recorded in the emirate over the course of last year, which is an 8% growth over 2015. Statistics across guest nights, the average length of stay and revenues also offered strong results, with 12,031,628 guest nights.

Abu Dhabi’s record-breaking figures for 2016 have been released as tourism stakeholders meet with TCA overseas office representatives at the annual Overseas Offices Summit. Now in its 6th year, the Overseas Offices Summit is a major annual event for tourism stakeholders to share product details with TCA Abu Dhabi’s 11 overseas office teams, who then identify opportunities across emerging international markets.

“These exceptional results demonstrate the emirate’s growing international appeal, as well as our ongoing successes in positioning Abu Dhabi as a distinctive global destination built on unique experiences, rich cultural heritage as well as unlimited opportunities for family leisure and MICE events,” said HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, TCA Abu Dhabi.

“Our primary overseas markets continue to perform well.Moving into 2017, we remain committed to expanding our outstanding tourism and cultural assets to inspire growth in the tourism sector, leveraging support from key partners across the industry to create new opportunities for international visitors and secure the highest standards of hospitality, business and leisure facilities,” he added.

India retains its position as the largest overseas market for Abu Dhabi with growth of15% to 323,388 in guest arrivals, while dedicated Weibo and Wechat online channels and a visa on arrival scheme have elevated China to third place, with 31% growth in guest arrivals. The UK continues to lead the European markets, cementing is position as the second largest international market with 238,167 arrivals over the course of 2016.

Domestic tourism accounted for one-third of all hotel guests last year, with Saudi Arabia continuing an established trajectory as the emirate’s most important regional market.

Hotel guest growth has been seen emirate-wide. Al Ain City saw an increase in guest arrivals and nights to 426,820 and 849,589 respectively. The Western Region achieved particularly impressive results, with a 51% increase in average length of stay to 3.24 nights, as well as an increased trajectory in occupancy and guest nights to 68% and 390,078 respectively.

Forging ahead in 2017, the emirate is poised to leverage an increasing number of cultural and tourism assets in order to seize the opportunities available across key sectors. The launch of TCA Abu Dhabi’s ‘Your Extraordinary Story’ global destination campaign has already achieved incredible success, sharing the emirate’s unique appeal and identity to domestic audiences and in the Authority’s key overseas target markets of Saudi Arabia, UK, Germany, China, India and the USA.

New experiences and attractions on offer such as Wahat Al Karama and the recently announced programme of activities in Al Ain associated with the Oasis’ public opening as the UAE’s first UNESCO World Heritage site,have broadened Abu Dhabi’s appeal, while seasonal campaigns and headline events such as Abu Dhabi Summer Season, Abu Dhabi Food Festival and Abu Dhabi Art are set to make a triumphant return.

Trends of growth are also expected in the MICE and Cruise tourism sectors, creating demand for the emirate’s 169 hotels and hotel apartments, which saw a3% year-on-year increase in hotel rooms to exceed 30,000 for the first time.

HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, TCA Abu Dhabi, said:  “These impressive results across the emirate’s tourism sector have been made possible by tireless stakeholder engagement and industry support. We aim to further strengthen these partnerships through 2017, anticipating a steady growth in these shared initiatives as we move forward.”

2016 has seen an array of innovative promotions across the Authority’s 11 overseas offices. Abu Dhabi has welcomed leading travel associations – India’s TAAI congress, Britain’s ABTA trade association, and a delegation from DER Touristik, one of our strongest European partners servicing five different tour operator brands in the German speaking markets.

Joint marketing activities have been intensified with travel trade in the US, France, and Russia and CIS states, including outreach into Eastern Europe with a presence at the Belgrade Travel Fair in the Serbian capital, and thousands of travel agents have been hosted on familiarisation visits, from as far and wide as the UK and Australia.