Cultural oasis of Abu Dhabi empowers over 700 TAFI delegates with first-hand product knowledge
Ranking among the top three, India is an important source market for Abu Dhabi Tourism and to enhance the awareness among the Indian trade partners, the destination played host to over 700 delegates at the Travel Agents Federation of India’s (TAFI) Convention 2018 where trade witnessed the destination in-person, empowering themselves to promote the emirate in a much efficient manner.
In his interaction with ProTourism.News, Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, Executive Director, Department of Culture & Tourism, Abu Dhabi highlights the cultural quotient of the destination and reveals that the VAT refund and online training program will be launched soon. Akansha Pandey reports.
The Department of Culture & Tourism, Abu Dhabi started off in 2006 with 7,000 keys and 1 million hotel overnights which have now grown to 32,000 keys and 5 million bed nights (in 2017). An additional capacity growth of 10,000 hotel rooms (across categories) is in the pipeline in the next three years, as part of which a new iconic building of Fairmont hotel (similar to Atlantis Dubai) is set to debut soon.
In 2017, Abu Dhabi reported 350,000 overnights from India. This year until August, the number has already surged to 250,000, an increase of 18% over the same period the previous year. Simultaneously, investment is being done to steadily grow the position in the Indian market by 10-15% year on year and also educating our stakeholders on how to better their services as per the requirements of Indian travellers.
Previously, the mosque and theme parks in Abu Dhabi were considered for day visits by Indians but over the years, the travel trend has evolved and now travellers are either combining Dubai and Abu Dhabi or choosing Abu Dhabi as the end destination, especially for Indian weddings. Indian arrivals can also book the exciting transit packages, making the most of the halt time of their connecting flights in Abu Dhabi.
“We don’t compete with Dubai, rather we complement. With major focus on cultural component, Abu Dhabi boasts of Louvre Museum, Qasr Al Hosn – slated to open by the end of this year, adventure activities in Yas Island, art and museum in Saadiyat Island and the authentic historical destination of Al Ain besides the modern metropolis of Abu Dhabi city,” said Al Dhaheri.
The Food Festival will be back in December this year showcasing an element of Indian cuisine as well. Also, coffee is part of the emirates’ culture and the “Coffee Project” demonstrates what coffee means to the local community to enrich the traveller’s experience.
Cruise tourism is another growing travel segment in Abu Dhabi. With 7,000 cruise passengers in Abu Dhabi sailing from a temporary makeshift set up way back in 2008, the terminal facility is state of the art today observing 350,000 passengers and five cruise ships being home-ported.
The Abu Dhabi government has also entered into an agreement with the Medical Tourism Association (MTA). Travel packages for availing finest and specialised medical treatment are also being curated to establish the emirate as a preferred medical tourism destination for target markets such as GCC countries, China, India, Russia and Africa.
“Under the clear strategy of our leadership, we aim to develop the tourism sector as one of the driving sectors of our economy. The VAT refund for tourists to Abu Dhabi will be operational from 2019. Additionally, travel agents may soon be able to access the global online training program on Abu Dhabi which is currently under work in progress,” he highlighted.
The varied zones in Abu Dhabi have their distinct unique selling proposition and as part of the growth story, going forward the leisure and entertainment parks will come up in the Yas Island; Saadiyat will house art and culture offerings; the metropolitan attractions will remain in the city and Al Ain will feature all heritage and historical experiences.
“I like travelling to New Delhi to dine at Bukhara Restaurant in ITC Maurya, the experience of which is beyond food. I have also been to Mumbai which feels absolutely at home. Going forward, I would want to try the luxury trains in India such as Palace on Wheels, etc. and relish the authentic Indian culture and hospitality.”