Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company (ADDH) will invest €100 million (Dh409m) in Europe's third-largest tour operator FTI Group as part of a partnership to boost tourism to the UAE capital.
The two parties will work together to increase the number of visitors from key European markets such as the UK, France and Germany to Abu Dhabi, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The collaboration will not only create many opportunities to enhance Abu Dhabi’s sustainable tourism sector, but it aligns with our mandate to further develop sectors of Abu Dhabi’s non-oil economy," said Mohamed Al Suwaidi, chief executive of ADDH.
Abu Dhabi is developing its tourism sector as part of wider plans to diversify its economy away from a reliance on oil revenues. Its push into tourism includes efforts to bolster air connectivity by attracting outside operators: European discount company Wizz Air is planning a new airline in the capital in a deal with ADDH that will compete with another new low-cost airline to be operated by Etihad Airways and Air Arabia. Etihad, which has cut unprofitable routes, is now focusing on point-to-point traffic serving Abu Dhabi.
ADDH's investment in FTI will help expand the company’s global business outreach and its work across tour operation, destinations management, own content and distribution, it said.
"FTI Group is already recognised as a key player in Europe’s tourism industry and with access to a passenger base of more than seven million people, I am confident that our agreement will significantly boost the number of tourists arriving from key European source markets to Abu Dhabi," Mr Al Suwaidi said.
The company based in Munich forecasts turnover of €4.1 billion in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. It employs 12,000 people globally and operates across 120 destinations in six source markets, according to the FTI website. It has served eight million customers this year and has 70 owned and managed hotels.
In 2010, FTI established destination management company Meeting Point Tourism in the UAE.
Abu Dhabi is seeking to boost the number of visitors across the business, medical, cultural and cruise tourism sectors.
Abu Dhabi hosted 1.3 million hotel guests during the third quarter of this year, an increase of 1.7 per cent on the same period in 2018, the emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism said last month.
In the first nine months of the year, there were nearly 3.8 million hotel guests, a 2.9 per cent increase on the same period last year. The total for 2019 is expected to reach a record 5.1 million, representing a 2 per cent increase year-on-year, according to DCT.
ADDH was established in 2018 as a public joint stock company and has a portfolio of state-owned enterprises spanning sectors including utilities, tourism, transport and logistics, industries, real estate, media, health care, agri-foods and ICT.