Abu Dhabi achieved a two per cent increase in hotel guest numbers last year, bucking international trends in a globally depressed tourism market.
In all some 1.54 million guests stayed in hotels throughout the emirate in 2009 racking up some 4,673,494 guest nights. Guest stays in the final quarter grew by 16 per cent year on year.
"The year ended on a high with a very successful last quarter driven by major events and an Eid break with strong stay-at-home characteristics," said Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director-General, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).
UAE hotel guests grew by 43 per cent year-on-year for the month of December alone. Domestic tourism helped underpin Abu Dhabi's performance accounting for 42 per cent of hotel guests – 650,585 in all – a rise of 26 per cent on the previous year.
"Strong growth in domestic demand made an important contribution to Abu Dhabi's ability to weather the global tourism industry challenges brought on largely by the global financial crisis and the spread of H1N1," said Al Muhairi.
"While the last 12 months have been challenging, as they have for all destinations, we believe growth is a very solid performance in the face of global decline. Over the longer term, we have recorded very strong growth in guests, especially over the past five years with double digit increases every year until 2009. Numbers have doubled since 2004 from 960,000 to over 1.5 million in 2009."
On the international front, Abu Dhabi's main source markets for hotel guests were the UK (96,709), USA (67,804), India (61,241), Germany (59,667), Egypt (43,304), France (34,776), Saudi Arabia (30,717) and Italy (29,653).
"Further field markets such as Russia and China are gaining in significance while markets in South East Asia have shown strong recent growth benefiting from enhanced air access," said Al Muhairi.
Other performance highlights included a rise in the contribution of the Meetings, Incentive, Convention and Exhibitions (Mice) segment to the hotel guest total – up from eight per cent in 2008 to 10 per cent last year.
"We expect this sector to continue to perform well and are actively competing for business," said Al Muhairi.
Al Muhairi said number of factors contributed to the positive outcome.
"Some of these key factors include the unwavering commitment of the Abu Dhabi government to a well-thought-out plan, a strong and vibrant economy as well as the substantial strides made in the development of the tourism infrastructure including expansion of airport capacity, exhibition and meetings space," he said.
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