Abu Dhabi hotel nights up 15% over 2009

ABU DHABI The number of guests staying in the 118 hotels throughout Abu Dhabi this year is 16% higher than the same period in 2009, and the emirate has recorded a 15% year-on-year increase in guest nights.

The figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority indicate that the emirate, which has seen a surge in its accommodation stock over the past 12 months, looks certain to achieve its 2010 target of 1.65 million hotel guests.

October proved to be one of Abu Dhabi’s best performing months this year, with an 18% year-on-year increase in travelers and a 4% rise in the average length of stay to 3.3 nights.

“We anticipate November’s performance will be equally impressive, with the emirate having hosted a number of key trade exhibitions and, of course, the 2010 Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix,” says Lawrence Franklin, director of strategy and policy for ADTA. “Add to this the recent opening of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and the arrival of the Yas Island Show Weekends, which the hotels on Yas Island are supporting with extremely attractive deals, and our annual target is well within our sights.”

Domestic tourism continues to perform well, growing 15% year-on-year to 616,238, with international hotel guests increasing by 17% to 861,560.

In terms of guest nights, the UK continues to be Abu Dhabi’s top international market with an 18% increase year-on-year accounting for some 420,204 guest nights. “We are confident of maintaining our growth from the UK and Ireland with third-party endorsements such as Abu Dhabi’s recent naming by Britain’s influential trade publication Travel Trade Weekly as ‘arguably the world’s most exciting new tourism hotspot,’” Franklin says.

The United States came in second, growing 35% year-on-year to 344,183. Russia, where ADTA plans to open a destination promotion office by the end of the year, increased year-on-year by 13% to 35,787.

Increased accommodation stock throughout Abu Dhabi impacted occupancy and revenue levels, which slipped by 16% year-on-year to 63% and 5% to AED3.2 billion (US$888 million), respectively.

“Though now a much more competitive destination than this time last year, we are conscious of the need to achieve a more healthy occupancy of between 65% to 75% to meet investor business imperatives and the demands of consumers,” Franklin says. “Importantly, occupancy during October was a healthy 72%, showing that we have the capability to operate within this range.

“We are also encouraged by the fact that month-on-month room revenue growth from September to October this year at 50% was the highest achieved over the past 10 months.”

 F&B revenues throughout Abu Dhabi’s hotels reached AED1.1 billion (US$305 million) for the first 10 months of the year, a 13% year-on-year increase, and now account for 36% of all hotel revenues, compared to 30% for the same period last year.

In 2011, ADTA aims to deliver 1.9 million hotel guests staying in around 22,000 hotel guestrooms and contributing 11.1% to the emirate’s overall non-oil GDP. The targets will mean a 15% rise on the 2010 hotel guest target, an increase of over 5,000 hotels rooms and a 0.4% increase in overall non-oil GDP contribution.

Abu Dhabi hopes to shift its current business tourism-orientated hotel guest profile to a more balanced business/leisure tourism split. “We are confident we can achieve this because our leisure proposition has, and will, continue to grow,” Franklin says. “More intense focus on the leisure segment also aids our strategy of increasing overall length of stay.”