Hotel guest numbers surge in capital ahead of Formula One

A record number of guests checked into Abu Dhabi’s hotels in the first nine months of the year with arrivals up by almost a fifth last month alone.

Rosewood Hotel at Sowwah Square towers on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
Powered by automated translation

Abu Dhabi hotels drew record arrivals in the first nine months of the year as the emirate gears up for one of its busiest weeks with the arrival of Formula One.

September guest numbers grew by almost a fifth on a year earlier.

The emirate received 226,002 hotel guests in September, a 19 per cent rise on the same month a year previously, with guest nights increasing by more than a quarter to 714,577.

During the first nine months of the year the emirate – which now has 148 hotels and hotel apartments offering 25,671 rooms – received 1,981,732 guests, a 14 per cent increase on the previous year.

Hotel revenues in the first nine months rose by 18 per cent to Dh3.7 billion, Dh1.5bn of which was income from food and beverage outlets. Revenue per available room rose 6 per cent to Dh285.

And many hotels noticed a surge in bookings.

“Abu Dhabi became one of the most popular destinations and our hotels observed a sharp rise in room nights in 2013, with 20 per cent increase versus the same period in 2012,” said Adrian Deegan, Rotana’s area director of sales for Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

“Despite the increase in room inventory in Abu Dhabi, Rotana hotels in the Abu Dhabi has witnessed one of the busiest first nine months since 2008,” he added.

India was Abu Dhabi’s largest overseas market for hotel guests, with 121,763 Indians checking into the emirate’s hotels in the first nine months, representing a rise of 24 per cent year on year. The UK was the second largest overseas source market, with 109,330 British guests and Germany was third with 83,694 German visitors booking into Abu Dhabi hotels.

Guest arrivals from within the UAE, however, crept up only 3 per cent in the first nine months, delivering a 27 per cent increase in guest nights to 1,586,875 and a 23 per cent increase in length-of-stay to 2.3 nights.

“We still have a way to go in convincing domestic visitors of the sheer diversity of our offering and that there is much to discover in the wider emirate. And with planned additional attractions due to come on line in both Al Gharbia and Al Ain, we hope to begin to rectify this,” said Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, Tourism & Culture Authority Abu Dhabi.

However, overall the body was pleased with the increase in Abu Dhabi guest numbers over the first nine months, he added.

The rise was mainly thanks to events such as the Abu Dhabi Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition, which attracted 125,000 visitors, and concerts, as well as targeted campaigns in key markets, said Mohammed Al Dhaheri, director of strategy and policy, TCA Abu Dhabi.

And the Formula One will bring an influx of visitors to the city, further driving up figures.

Many hotels, including the recently opened Rosewood and all of Rotana’s 11 properties across Abu Dhabi, are fully booked during the duration of the event.

But that is not the only event attracting tourists to Abu Dhabi over the coming weeks.

“If you look at the spread of the whole month you have the Film Festival and you have the Formula One coming and then Abu Dhabi Arts is coming,” said Mr Al Dhaheri.

“This is a prime season for Abu Dhabi, where all those events actually create the demand for the destination.”