Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority opens office in Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates: Thursday, May 17 - 2012 at 09:33
- PRESS RELEASE
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority has opened a fully-fledged office in Saudi Arabia to penetrate the Kingdom's, and the wider GCC's, high potential outbound market.
The move comes as Saudi Arabia and other GCC destinations produce more hotel guests for the emirate than ever before with authority officials believing there's more potential from the region.
In the first quarter of this year some 45,823 GCC nationals, excluding Emiratis, stayed in Abu Dhabi's hotels and hotel apartments - a 57% increase on Q1 2011. In all they notched up 101,587 guest nights - up 50% on the first quarter of 2011. Saudi Arabia produced the lion's share with some 22,107 Saudis staying in making the Kingdom Abu Dhabi's fourth largest international source market. Abu Dhabi's hotels and hotel apartment during Q1 this year - a 69% rise on the same period last year. They accounted for 49,489 guest nights - again a 69% rise on Q1 2011.
"This market on our doorstep is extremely important to us," explained Mubarak Al Nuaimi, International Promotions Manager, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. "There are excellent air links between Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi with Etihad, the national airline of the UAE now flying 23 times a week from the Kingdom to Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabian Airlines operating 14 flights a week on the same route. Many others, of course, may opt to drive to Abu Dhabi and on the way can call in at the new resorts in Al Gharbia, such as the Desert Islands Resort & Spa on Sir Bani Yas Island which recently opened equestrian stables and which is soon to have a dedicated dive centre.
"There is much more to see and do in Abu Dhabi this year than last - and there is much more to come. Two major new resorts will open this summer and by the end of the year, Yas Island will have the UAE's largest waterpark which we are sure will be a big draw with GCC clientele."
The office is headed by 32-year-old UAE National Mubarak Al Shamsi, who hails from Al Ain and has worked with the authority since 2004 in a number of roles across marketing, events and promotions. Mr Al Shamsi, now the authority's Country Manager Saudi Arabia, holds a BSC in Business Administration from the University of Colorado, Denver, USA and two Masters degrees - the first in General Manager from the LUISS Guide Carli University of Rome, the second in Quality Manager from the University of Wollangong in Dubai.
"We have identified three main priority areas with the first being to convert market demand to visitation," explained Al Shamsi. "This will initially centre around our Summer In Abu Dhabi campaign and up-coming events such as November's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. We will work closely with our Saudi Arabian partner tour operators to achieve this.
"We also intend to establish and cultivate greater channels of distribution by conducting sales calls and developing customized packages for the GCC markets, focused on both business and leisure, through a network of tour operators, travel agents and MICE partners. We will educate these partners on the destination through familiarisation trips, travel agent training workshops and regular e-newsletters.
"We will reach out to the consumer through major events and promotions to deepen their awareness of Abu Dhabi's latest product offerings."
The authority's Saudi office opening comes as it spearheads its first major travel fair promotion in the Kingdom along with 12 of its key stakeholders. A special Abu Dhabi pavilion is to be mounted at the Riyadh Travel Fair, which runs from May 15-18..
"Many of these stakeholders are introducing new resorts, hotels, attractions and facilities upgrades," said Al Nuaimi.
Among pavilion exhibitors is the Thai hospitality brand Anantara is promoting its soon-to-open Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa. The luxury, five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi city, which is due to open within the next two months, is set on 1.2 kilometres of the UAE capital's protected Eastern Mangroves reserve just 15 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport.
David Garner, Anantara's Regional Director of Sales & Marketing Middle East, says the Eastern Mangroves hotel will allow the brand to offer a unique experience of Abu Dhabi when combined with stays at its boutique Desert Islands Resort & Spa on Sir Bani Yas Island and the landmark Qasr Al Sarab (Mirage Palace) Desert Resort & Spa in the Liwa Desert.
"GCC travellers can now benefit from a 3-5 day break in the UAE which offers the only opportunity in the market to experience a 360 degree experience of Abu Dhabi city, a desert island with a wildlife park and the desert," said David.
Also out to increase its share of the Saudi Arabian outbound market is Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi which is currently enhancing its room product.
"This will be finished by September this year and we believe our inter-connecting classic rooms which have sea views will resonate particularly well with the Saudi traveller," said Elise Sarkis, Director of PR & Marketing.
Abu Dhabi-headquartered Rotana Group will be promoting two of its soon-to-open properties in the UAE capital. The Centro Capital Centre will open in Q3 and the Capital Centre Rotana in Q4. Both will be in the prestigious Capital Centre development surrounding Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi - the world's largest indoor theme park and its first Ferrari branded theme park - will be whetting Saudi visitors' fun appetites with the promise of the impending opening of a new experiential family ride and further visitor enhancements.
"The Park is updating its highly popular La Gara show to be bigger and better than ever," explained Raquel Lopez, Director of Marketing & Sales, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. "There is also a calendar of themed events with activities designed to entertain every member of the family. Later this year we are also bringing back Speed Week to the park creating a great family atmosphere during Eid and the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix."
One of Abu Dhabi's most established five-star hotels - the InterContinental Abu Dhabi - will be promoting its newly enhanced beach development which incorporates two new swimming pools set in beautiful landscaped gardens overlooking its stunning marina.
"Saudi Arabia is one of our key feeder markets and delivered significant growth in 2011," said Sayed Tayoun, Director of Sales & Marketing, InterContinental Abu Dhabi.
"At the Riyadh Travel Fair we hope to strengthen our relationships with existing clients and connect with new ones to drive more business and market share for both corporate and leisure from within the Kingdom."
Saudi Arabia joins an Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority overseas office network which already has a presence in the UK & Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Australia and China with an official opening of a USA office imminent.
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