Abu Dhabi hotel bookings climb by 100,000

Officials said successful analytics had allowed a more targeted approach to advertising

ABU DHABI ,  UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , SEPTEMBER 21 – 2019 :- Batman during the Guinness World Record for the Batman’s 80th anniversary held at Warner Bros  in Abu Dhabi. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News/Online/Instagram
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The number of hotel guests staying in Abu Dhabi this year has risen by 100,000, new figures have shown.

Officials from the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) also said the emirate had recorded a seven per cent increase in hotel revenues.

Experts said the rise could be explained by a growing number of world-class attractions continuing to draw in visitors.

A new government data analytics programme - allowing advertisers to target potential holidaymakers more effectively - has also proved a success.

“We used sophisticated tools to know [how] to target specific tourists,” said Ziad Mohamad, director of business intelligence at DCT.

“We never had this clarity before. Rather than a one-size-fits-all [style of campaigning], you create something very tailored.”

Official figures showed 4.6 million guests stayed in Abu Dhabi hotels between January and November this year, compared to 4.5 million over the same period in 2018.

Data also showed that between January and the end of October, hotels in the emirate made Dh4.5 billion, with more than seven million rooms occupied.

Saif Saeed Ghobash, undersecretary to the DCT, told The National he expected visitor numbers to continue to grow throughout 2020, due in part to Expo Dubai 2020.

He said attractions such as Qasr Al Hosn, Qasr Al Watan, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Warner Bros World were huge assets and that there would be more opening soon.

“We will be holding road shows and promoting packages - after all the Expo site is not more than 40 minutes away from Abu Dhabi,” he said.

“It is this [analytics] system that we have been working very hard on the past three years that made the difference.”

Mr Mohamad said the DCT was now in a position where it knew when it was best to advertise the emirate to travellers and to which nationality.

He said research had discovered, for instance, that Indians seldom went on holiday during Diwali, and so they avoided creating tourist packages for the Indian market at that time.

“We also realised that the Indian travel market does not have a presence on Snapchat; 95 per cent of them are on Facebook and Instagram,” he said.

As a result, the DCT were able to focus their advertising efforts on more popular social media platforms.

Most visitors to Abu Dhabi this year were Emiratis and other nationalities living in the country.

Some 1.3 million visited the emirate, with the second largest segment being 400,000 Indian nationals.

The third largest sector was China, followed by the UK, the United States and Egypt. Some 100,000 German tourists also visited the emirate.

“This is a long-term journey,” said Mr Mohamad, adding officials aimed to ensure tourists created “a lasting association with the city, to feel touched by it, to fall in love”.

Hany Abdelkawi, head of travel and international sales at Google, said Abu Dhabi had definitely become a “trendy destination”.

“It is on some travellers’ to do list to be on an Etihad or Emirates flight,” he said. “Some people want to see [the] Burj Khalifa and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.”