There is no doubt about what a huge success this year’s Volvo Ocean Race was and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority capitalised on this by having a fine pavilion in Galway for the race finale – and invited some agents and tour operators to join them as part of their Irish promotional activities.
The visit came as the Emirate announced that Ireland has now joined the top 25 source markets for international visitors to Abu Dhabi. In the first five months of the year to date some 5,451 Irish people checked into Abu Dhabi hotels, which is a 19% increase over the same period last year.
The London-based Abu Dhabi team with responsibility for the Irish market, Nabeel Al Zarouni and Angela Bates, were on hand to host the trade and to deal with the large number of visitors who thronged the pavilion seeking information on the Emirate.
They were joined by Karen Maloney and two uniformed Irish flight attendants from Etihad Airways, the official airline of the UAE who now have 10 flights a week from Dublin direct to Abu Dhabi.
There is increased interest in Abu Dhabi as a leisure destination from the Irish market, according to Nabeel Al Zarouni, who said: “With increased air links and a wider hospitality and leisure offering we are in a strong position to date to win increased numbers of Irish visitors. A new major attraction due to open in December will be the Aqua Park, which will be aimed at the family market.”
There has been a vast increase in the number of new hotels in the past year. Some of the new hotels that will come on-stream in 2012 include:
- Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara: 224 rooms/220 apartments
- Al Raha Hotel extension: 144 rooms
- Centro Capital Centre Rotana: 414 rooms
- Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche: 282 rooms
- Vision Meena Hotel Apartments: 230 rooms
The overall target for 2012 is 3.2 million hotel guests and 24,000 hotel rooms.
Angela Bates of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority watches as a visitor tries his hand on the Grand Prix simulator. The Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be held there in November.