Abu Dhabi has seen double-digit growth in both hotel guests and guest nights in the first quarter of this year compared to last. According to Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority figures 594,918 guests stayed in the emirate’s 130 hotels and hotel apartments from January to March end this year – a 17% increase on Q1 of 2011. Guest nights over the same three-month period rose 10% year-on-year to stand at 1.725 million.
Guest arrivals growth was recorded across all key regional markets with the exception of North America. Domestic tourism held up well producing 212,597 guests and 401,347 guest nights – rises of 11% and 8% on the comparative period last year. Strong growth also came from the GCC – which delivered 57% more hotel guests than in Q1 last year.
“The GCC is increasingly productive for us and we can look forward to further growth from this sector as Etihad increases frequency from Kuwait to Abu Dhabi and added additional flights from Dammam in Saudi Arabia to Abu Dhabi,” explained Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. “In addition, our on-the-ground presence in Saudi Arabia, which will shortly be formalised into a fully fledged office, is producing greater destination awareness and trade relationships,” he added.
Saudi Arabia is now the emirate’s fourth most productive overseas source market for hotel guests with some 22,107 Saudi nationals staying in Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of the year – a 69% rise on last year. They accounted for some 49, 489 guest nights – again a 69% increase on the same period in 2011. Kuwait, Oman and Qatar also produced double-digit hotel guest and guest night growth for Abu Dhabi during Q1.
“Our GCC neighbours, with the exception of Bahrain, now rank among Abu Dhabi’s Top 25 longest-staying guests,” explained Al Muhairi.
Hotel guest growth from Asia was up 37%, driven largely by increased traction from China. Some 8,941 Chinese nationals stayed in the emirate’s hotels in Q1 – a jump of 86% on the equivalent period last year – delivering 16,302 guest nights, a 61% rise on last year’s January-through-March contribution.
“Having just completed a five-city road show around the People’s Republic we are confident of building momentum from the country,” explained Al Muhairi. “This year has seen major advancements in air accessibility from China.”
During Q1 this year, hotel guests from Europe climbed 17% with much of the growth primarily influenced by Germany, which grew 46% in terms of hotel guests to 27,751 and 40% in guest nights to 114,006.
The UK remains Abu Dhabi’s top performing hotel guest source market, though numbers slipped 2% in the first quarter of this year compared to 2011. From January to March end some 37,095 British stayed in the emirate’s hotels, translating into 159,216 guest nights. India ranked second, accounting for 31,564 hotel guests and delivering 112,681 guest nights – a 15% increase on Q1 last year.
The average length of stay during the first three months of 2012 slipped slightly, dropping 5% to 2.90.
Overall hotel revenues rose 1% to AED 1.2 billion (US$ 362 million), with the first quarter’s average room rate coming in at AED500 (US$ 136).