Miral Asset Management, the Abu Dhabi-based developer behind Yas Island’s main leisure attractions, forecasts a 10 per cent increase in footfall to the island in 2018 compared with last year, as it completes 50 per cent of the entertainment destination and prepares to roll out a combined ticketing structure in June.
"Last year we achieved 27 million visitors and we are targeting this year a 10 per cent increase on that," Mohamed Al Zaabi, chief executive of Miral, told The National in Dubai.
The increase will be driven primarily by the launch of the $1 billion Warner Brothers World Abu Dhabi on 25 July – the first Warner Bros-branded indoor theme park in the world.
In addition, Splash, the latest attraction at Yas Waterworld, will open in June, and two new attractions at Ferrari World, taking the total number of rides there to 39 and marking 50 per cent of the total planned development of the island.
Mr Al Zaabi said a key growth driver would be the launch of a combined ticketing platform for Yas Island’s hotel and leisure facilities, targeted for the end of June.
“Over the last 12 months, we have been busy creating a new platform that will help us to integrate assets together and sell them to customers in weekend and ‘stay and play’ packages,” he said. “We believe this will be a game-changer.”
The packages will be purchased online and initially offer cut-price deals on hotel and theme park visits. In time, more Yas Island attractions will be added to each package, including boat tours and race track tickets.
The chief executive declined to reveal the pricing structure as it is dependent on demand, season and availability. These are “attractive packages” he said, offering “better value for money” than if you were to buy each component separately.
“My team is working closely with hotels to tailor packages for our local and international guests,” he added.
Miral will launch a Yas Island mobile app in the coming few days, which will provide each customer with a unique ‘Yas Island ID’ they can use across other apps planned for Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World and Warner Bros, and to gain access to Yas Island Wi-Fi whenever they visit.
“So eventually we’ll learn about you and what you are interested in and we can customise better experiences for you,” Mr Al Zaabi said. This will also help to generate more repeat visits.
Abu Dhabi’s listed real estate company Aldar Properties is also helping to drive footfall on the island with a string of residential schemes under construction or in the pipeline, including Yas Acres and West Villas.
“For the first time ever we have people calling Yas Island home,” Mr Al Zaabi said. Miral is also developing a Dh12bn mixed-use project called Yas Bay spanning 14 million square feet towards the south of the island.
Mr Al Zaabi remains optimistic that Yas Island will have the region’s first-ever aerial cable car to transport people around the island by 2020. Two years ago, it signed a memorandum of understanding with Los Angeles-based company Skytran to research the plans.
Skytran will shortly begin testing the cable car and, subject to the outcome of the tests, Miral intends to sign a contract in 2019 for the company to build the first phase of the project, a 1-kilometre-long air-conditioned link between Ferrari World and Warner Bros. “That will be a very unique experience,” he said.