The Q1 results were aided by a healthy March performance when guest arrivals rose 9% on the same month last year to stand at 230,974 which translated into 761,834 guest nights – a 26% month-on-month increase with total revenues climbing 18% to AED502 million (US $136.7 million), average-length-of-stay edging up 16% and occupancy rising 7% to 74%. The results were also delivered against a background of rising room supply with four new hotel facilities – two resorts, one in Abu Dhabi city another in Al Ain, and two hotel apartments in the UAE capital – opening during Q1 bringing an additional 706 rooms online.
The only negative territory recorded in Q1 was the average room rate which dropped slightly by 2% to AED 489 (US $133).
“The heightened competitiveness of the destination is winning additional major tour operators to our destination,” explained HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, TCA Abu Dhabi. “We are starting to reap the benefits of our trade engagement programme which began a year ago and in which 14 destination management companies have been represented, three of which are now opening offices in Abu Dhabi with a fourth expanding an existing office. The programme has enabled us to reach 4.4 million consumers through joint partner marketing promotions in Australia, UK, Germany and Russia while 27,850 travel agents and agencies have been engaged through promotions and educated on destination Abu Dhabi products. With our trade engagement partners we have staged 15 destination roadshows and presentations in India, Russia, Germany and the UK.
“As a result of these initiatives we have generated, with our partners, 28,440 guests from Australia, the UK and Germany which translated into 91,418 room nights. Overall we are on the right side of the curve and with planned new air routes such as Etihad’s daily service from Amsterdam starting next month and services from Sao Paolo beginning June, we have new territories to explore. This week our team is in Sao Paolo spreading the destination message at the inaugural World Travel Market Latin America and other major promotional campaigns are being launched at Arabian Travel Market next month and through a seven city Far East road show taking in five Chinese cities, Tokyo and Seoul in June.” During Q1 of this year domestic tourism continued to be Abu Dhabi’s biggest supplier of hotel guests accounting for 202,506 guests, 464,048 guest nights and an average-length-of-stay of 2.29 nights.
“Domestic still holds out potential for us. We have slipped back 5% on arrivals on Q1 last year and still have work to do on building the average-length-of-stay. A round-emirates road show is in the planning stage as we look to press home our message that there is now so much more to see and do in Abu Dhabi,” said Al Muhairi.
On the international front, the UK maintained its position as the emirate’s leading overseas guests source market delivering in Q1 some 39,841 arrivals, which was up 7% on Q1 last year, a total of 186,882 guest nights, which was an increase of 17% and an average-length-of-stay of 4.69 nights, which was up 9% on the comparative period.
India was the Q1’s second largest international source market delivering 36,157 guests – a 7% increase on last year, 171,510 guest nights, which was up 52% and an average-length-of-stay of 4.74 nights – a 33% year-on-year lift.
Germany came in third as the largest overseas source market with 31,700 Germans checking into Abu Dhabi’s hotels and hotel apartments – 14% more than last year, which translated into 150,727 guest nights – 32% up on last year – and they stayed longer averaging 4.75 nights, which was 16% lift.
“Though the year has begun well we are acutely aware of the challenges of the summer months and will shortly be announcing a series of festival activities which we hope will drive business to our accommodation providers over the traditional low season. We also anticipate strong visitor appeal emanating from the Birth of A Museum exhibition running at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island until towards the end of July and which presents important art works from the Louvre Abu Dhabi permanent collection, some of which have never been seen, or revealed, before,” added Al Muhairi.