Abu Dhabi sees occupancy boost

Pedestrian bridges include that they are located near road crossings, side roads and bus and taxi stations. (file)

Abu Dhabi hotels have experienced a jump in occupancy levels, with latest figures indicating a five per cent increase in January, compared to the same month last year to stand at 153,874 guests.

Figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) show guest nights rose by 22 per cent to 476,502 while occupancy levels rose nine percentage points to 66 per cent and the average length of stay increased to 3.10 nights from 2.68 in January 2010.

Of the 115 hotels and hotel apartments in the capital, hotel guests from Europe delivered double-digit growth rising 13 per cent on 2010 with Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy accounting for increases of 26 per cent, 14 per cent and 21 per cent respectively.  Saudi Arabia also performed well recording 15 per cent growth accounting for 2,695 guests.

“Rising occupancy is a positive sign and ADTA will continue to focus on balancing the need to maintain our value proposition with the expectations of healthy returns by sector investors,” said Lawrence Franklin, Strategy & Policy Director, ADTA, in a statement.

“The growth in length of stay suggests that we are making inroads into our goal of attracting an increasing number of leisure guests who traditionally spend more time in the destination than those staying purely for business purposes. Additions to the destination’s range of attractions, and its world-class events, such as January’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, combined with initiatives such as the Yas Island Show Weekends have aided this forward momentum.
Leisure Travel

Last year, during events such as the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix and concerts such as Guns N Roses and the Jonas Brothers, UAE guests accounted for over 40 per cent of the market (or 752,777 guests, up 16 per cent on 2009), while traffic from the rest of the GCC also increased significantly. Guests from Saudi Arabia rose 26 per cent, while numbers from Oman and Kuwait were up 35 per cent and 28 per cent respectively.Big name concerts such as the recently concluded Eric Clapton event, followed by the upcoming shows by rock band 30 Seconds to Mars on March 11 and the legendary Stevie Wonder on March 18 can ensure Q1 should close on a positive note.“We anticipate further leisure traffic growth emanating from Etihad Airways’ ‘Essential Abu Dhabi’ marketing campaign which encourages the airline’s passengers to stay in the UAE capital with a range of fantastic deals on production of their boarding pass and with greater awareness coming from the launch of the second phase of ADTA’s global marketing campaign.”

ADTA Director General Mubarak Al Muhairi had said earlier that this year’s Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix weekend will be just as action packed, with other major events lined up.“We have several highlights to look forward to, not least the end-of-year hosting of the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race when the city will be activated to welcome visitors to a New Year’s celebration like no other,” Al Muhairi said. “We are also gearing up for the arrival, this October, of the luxury liner MSC Lirica which will home port in Abu Dhabi during its 19 Gulf sailings from the UAE capital.”

Competitive rates

However, amidst this falling room rates, which were down 26 per cent year-on-year, saw revenue decline by three per cent last January compared to the same month in 2010, coming in at $101 million or Dh370 million with room revenue falling eight per cent to $55m or Dh200m.

Food and beverage revenue increased year-on-year by five per cent to stand at $36m or Dh132m.

“F&B continues to be the star of the sector with some evidence that visitors are spending money saved on room costs in Abu Dhabi’s increasing number of restaurant outlets,” said Franklin.

ADTA has set a stretch target of two million hotel guests this year, which will require a 10.5 per cent increase in hotel guest numbers on 2010.

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