Abu Dhabi Winning Chunk of Middle East Travel at Arabian Travel Market

Abu Dhabi Winning Chunk of Middle East Travel at Arabian Travel Market

Vacation News » Vacation & Leisure Real Estate Edition | By Alma Kadragic | May 8, 2009 10:29 AM ET

(DUBAI, U.A.E.) -- While much of the world's tourism business is down in the dumps, the Middle East is doing well especially the emirate of Abu Dhabi. On the last day of Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, the Middle East's biggest travel and tourism exhibition, business from the Gulf countries, UK, and Russia is looking good.

Rotana, the Saudi-owned hotel group which has several major hotels in the UAE said it has received many inquiries for new business coming out of Russia. "The launch of Etihad services from that region seems to be opening up the market," said Julia Gololobova, Travel Trade-Sales Coordinator Abu Dhabi/Al Ain.

New properties also scored points during the exhibition. L'Arabia Hotel Apartments, due to open next week in Mohammed Bin Zayed City, was attracting high interest from UAE tour operators. "As a means of getting our name out there, the show was a success," said sales executive Alina Gradinaru.

Richard Haddad, General Manager of Vision Hotels Management which currently operates a deluxe apartment hotel  in Abu Dhabi with another seven planned, reported handling up to 20 buyer appointments a day and intense interest in destination Abu Dhabi.

"Some appointments were scheduled in advance but we had new, walk-in business on the stand from Spain, the UK, Australia and Singapore. Awareness is growing of Abu Dhabi and everything that is happening in the emirate and people are becoming excited by the product," said Haddad.

Outside of the city but still in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, award-winning Thai hospitality group Anantara, which operates the Desert Islands Resort & Spa on Sir Bani Yas Island and the soon-to-open Qasr Al Sarab (Mirage Palace) Arabian retreat in the Liwa desert, is processing quotations for group business from Europe and Scandinavia. "There has been tremendous interest because of the uniqueness of both products," said Didier Tourneboeuf, Area General Manager - Middle East, Anantara.

"Tour operators have been impressed by the commitment to environment conservation demonstrated on Sir Bani Yas, by the touches of architectural heritage authenticity included in Qasr Al Sarab, and by the fact that there are resorts of such outstanding difference that can be experienced in destinations of great safety," Tourneboeuf added.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) which had the largest stand at the show is promoting new hotels, accommodation upgrades and expanding tour operator networks.  "Our message is two-fold," said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, International Promotions Manager, ADTA.

"Firstly we want to demonstrate Abu Dhabi's commitment to continue its measured growth strategy which is in line with our adoption of a long-term view of our goals, and secondly, to demonstrate the expansion of the destination's product offering - this includes new and planned hotels, major new events - including November's Formula 1 Grand Prix, new attractions, such as the renovated Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain, and new golf courses, including the Gary Player designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Course which will open by the end of this year."

Abu Dhabi has over 400 kilometres of coastline, 200 natural islands, deserts, oases, cultural attractions, and luxury accommodation. "The Middle East, and particularly the GCC market, is extremely important to Abu Dhabi," said Al Nuaimi. "We are fortunate in having access to the 30 million plus GCC consumers who have a tendency to travel locally in times of uncertainty."

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