Almost 2 million guests stayed in hotels in the emirate in the first 11 months of the year. Silvia Razgova / The National
Almost 2 million guests stayed in hotels in the emirate in the first 11 months of the year. Silvia Razgova / The National

F1 boost as hotels in capital head for record year



Formula One fans helped Abu Dhabi to achieve its strongest month for hotel stays in two years.

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Hotels in the capital welcomed more than 206,000 guests last month - a 22 per cent increase on the same period last year, according to new data.

Occupancy stood at 77 per cent, the same as the previous November, despite an increase in the number of rooms available in Abu Dhabi.

However, the average length of stay shrank slightly in comparison with the same period last year and there were also small dips in spending on accommodation, food and beverages.

Nevertheless, this is expected to be a record year, withthe UAE's 40th National Day celebrations and the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race boosting visitor numbers.

Almost 2 million guests stayed in hotels in the emirate in the first 11 months of the year - a 16 per cent rise on the same period last year. Guest nights also rose 23 per cent.

Without putting the cart before the horse, said Lawrence Franklin, the strategy and policy director for Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), "we are confident that we will surpass our stretch target for the year".

Last month's hotel guest figures indicate how big events can generate business, he said.

ADTA's "stretch target" for next year is 2.3 million guests, a 15 per cent growth goal.

The year is expected to get off to a good start thanks to the Volvo Ocean Race. But it is not all expected to be plain sailing.

"2012 will come with some challenges, many of which will roll over from 2011," Mr Franklin said. "Not the least of these is continuing economic uncertainty in many of our major source markets including the euro zone, United States and more recently markets such as India."

More hotels will also be completed, creating extra competition.

But Abu Dhabi has consistently proven its capacity to grow and absorb additional accommodation, "even in trying times", he added.

"We have enjoyed growth in arrivals from all euro-zone countries and major growth from markets such as GCC, India, Russia and China," Mr Franklin said.

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