US tour group jetting in to learn more about UAE’s attractions

The New York-based United States Tour Operators Association will send its delegation to Abu Dhabi from March 19-29 to learn more about the country’s attractions.

A feud between US airlines and regional rivals over open skies will not deter a group of American tour operators from visiting Abu Dhabi tomorrow.

The New York-based United States Tour Operators Association will send its delegation to the capital from tomorrow until March 29 to learn more about the country’s attractions, Abu Dhabi’s Tourism and Culture Authority said.

“The United States is an extremely important target for us for inbound visitors,” said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, director of promotions and overseas offices at TCA Abu Dhabi. The US market ranked fourth in terms of international visitors to Abu Dhabi, growing by 37 per cent in 2014 over a year earlier.

India provided the largest number of tourists last year followed by the UK and Germany.

“Last year saw 123,196 guest arrivals from the United States, generating 609,556 guest nights making American visitors one of our longest stayers with an average length of stay of just under five nights,” said Mr Al Nuaimi.

Abu Dhabi expects to attract 3.5 million visitors this year, after recording 3.49 million tourists in 2014, reflecting a 25 per cent increase over 2013.

Last year, the UAE capital succeeded in luring tourists from neighbouring Dubai by offering cheaper hotel rates. Visitors stayed on average 2.99 nights, which was down from 3.13 nights in 2013. The average room rate in the emirate dipped to Dh442 last year, from Dh448 the previous year.

The average occupancy rate in Abu Dhabi was 75 per cent in 2014, 6 per cent higher on the previous year.

The city is also building branches of renowned museums such as the Louvre and Guggenheim in its cultural district to help attract visitors.

Currently Etihad Airways operates 45 flights per week between the UAE capital and Washington DC, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas. US carriers have alleged that Etihad, Emirates and Qatar have enjoyed unfair financial benefits over the past decade in contravention of the rules of open skies.

In an effort to support their case, the US carriers prepared a 55-page document detailing allegations of unfair government subsidy and other financial incentives that they claim are in breach of open skies.

Emirates Airline, Etihad and Qatar Airways have rejected these allegations, saying that American airlines are losing market share because of inferior service.

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Published: March 17, 2015 04:00 AM


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