GCC travellers set hotel record for Abu Dhabi

Guests from Saudi Arabia staying in Abu Dhabi's hotels surged 130 per cent in July, as GCC tourists flocked to the emirate amid instability elsewhere, new data show.

Ajman, August 8, 2011 - Subash Babu, from India, changes the bedding in one of the rooms of the Landmark Suites Hotel in Ajman City, Ajman, August 8, 2011. Babu, who has a brother living in Dubai,  immigrated to the UAE nine years ago and has worked in foodstuffs sales in Ras al Khaimah, stationary sales in Abu Dhabi and now at the Landmark. "It (Ajman) is a little, silent place with not too much hurry and life is good," Babu says of Ajman City. He does miss his wife and two children who are still in India who he says he call everyday. (Jeff Topping/The National)
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The number of nights spent by GCC travellers in Abu Dhabi's hotels in July surged by 124 per cent compared to the same month last year, with a 130 per cent increase in visitors from Saudi Arabia staying in the emirate, new figures show.

Visitors from the GCC accounted for 39,087 guest nights in July, helping Abu Dhabi achieve record levels for the month with 38 per cent growth in total guest numbers, the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) said.

The number of guests from GCC countries, excluding the UAE, grew by 98 per cent on the same month last year to 19,828 tourists, according to the authority.

"The regional upsurge could likely be attributed to GCC travellers opting to spend time in a destination they associate with safety for their families and with more of them choosing to holiday in July ahead of the holy month of Ramadan when they wish to be at home with their families," said Lawrence Franklin, the strategy and policy director at the ADTA.

Saudi Arabia represented the biggest growth, with a 130 per cent increase to 10,766 guests. The number of UAE residents staying in the hotels grew 34 per cent to 84,444. Kuwait rose 129 per cent, with 2,070 Kuwaitis staying in Abu Dhabi.

In July, a total 189,486 guests stayed in the emirate's hotels. Occupancy levels increased by 9 per cent to 65 per cent and total revenue was up 6 per cent to Dh271 million (US $74.2 million). Average room rates declined 15 per cent compared to July last year to Dh372.55.

"The one disappointment was a fall off of 2 per cent in the average length of stay to 2.68 nights, which we anticipate being rectified in the coming months with our heightened infrastructure and events offering," said Mr Franklin.

The number of guests from the wider Arab market increased by 44 per cent to 22,383 in July, while Europe and Asia grew by 28 per cent.