Hotels beat heat to report rise in guest numbers

More guests stayed in Abu Dhabi's hotels and hotel apartments last month compared with August last year, says the ADTA.

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The number of guests staying in Abu Dhabi's hotels and hotel apartments increased by 6 per cent last month compared with August last year, says the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). A total of 122,475 guests stayed in properties in the emirate last month, the ADTA said. "This is a particularly heartening result given that August is traditionally a slow month, being one of the hottest, and which this year also coincided with Ramadan," said Mubarak al Muhairi, the director general of the ADTA.

"Year-on-year we are two thirds of the way to achieving our annual target of a 10 per cent increase in hotel guests to 1.65 million and this is without the pull of our headline attraction Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, which will open in October and … the Formula One Grand Prix, which takes place November." Tourism industry experts say the Ferrari World theme park, which opens on October 27 and features rides including the world's fastest roller coaster, will play a major role in boosting Abu Dhabi's appeal as a leisure destination.

But because of an increase in hotels in the emirate, occupancy levels fell by 21 per cent last month, meaning hotels were 51 per cent full, while average room rates were down 24 per cent. The ADTA said the number of guest nights last month was up 10 per cent on August last year, while there was a 4 per cent rise in the average length of stay to 2.92 nights over the same period. The number of hotel guests staying in the emirate in the first eight months of this year rose 15 per cent to 1,196,768 guests compared with the same period last year.

The tourism authority last week announced plans to open an office in Moscow next month to promote Abu Dhabi and it is also looking at increasing its marketing efforts elsewhere. "We are looking to have a permanent ADTA presence in Jeddah by the end of this year to further nurture this important regional segment," said Mr al Muhairi. "We are now a competitive destination after having previously been criticised by the trade and meetings planners for being too expensive. A more realistic balance is now being sought between the needs of investors and those of the consumer."

Food and beverage sales in Abu Dhabi's hotels is making an increasing contribution to their revenues, accounting for 35 per cent of overall revenue compared with 30 per cent a year ago, the ADTA said. "Food and beverage revenues have experienced solid growth of 14 per cent in the last eight months as more outlet choice tempts more people to eat out," Mr al Muhairi said. The number of hotel guests from the UAE staying in Abu Dhabi was up 15 per cent in the first eight months of the year compared with the same period last year, while the number of guests from the UK was up 18 per cent, with 75,565 British nationals staying in the emirate's hotels.

And 686,981 GCC nationals stayed in Abu Dhabi's hotels over the same period - a 20 per cent increase on last year - while the number of guests from Saudi Arabia was up 23 per cent.