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Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority is working closely with its industry stakeholders on a number of key initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Chinese visitors to the emirate and encouraging those who do come to stay longer.
News of the initiatives and their aims was spelt out at the opening of the third Chinese Visitor Summit which runs this week at the Rosewood Abu Dhabi hotel and which is being attended by 75 top Chinese travel agents and tour operators and a contingent of Chinese media.
Welcoming the Chinese delegation to Abu Dhabi, Mubarak Al Shamisi, director, Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau – which is a dedicated TCA Abu Dhabi entity – said the emirate has made significant progress in the number of Chinese it attracts to its hotels but there is still room for growth.
“At the launch of this summit three years ago, China had just entered our Top 20 markets for hotel guests, today it is our 8th most productive overseas market,” he said.
In the first half of this year, some 59,518 Chinese checked into Abu Dhabi’s hotels and resorts – which was a 189 per cent increase on the first half of 2013.
The Chinese guests delivered 105,915 guest nights, which was up 171 per cent year-on-year.
“We’re obviously delighted with this progress but face a challenge,” said Al Shamisi.
“Our Chinese guests don’t stay with us long enough – just 1.78 nights on average – we want more Chinese guests and we want those that do come to stay longer.”
Al Shamisi told the summit delegates that Abu Dhabi had the right product mix for Chinese tourists including great, tax-free shopping which would be enhanced this November with the opening of the expansive Yas Mall – the UAE’s second largest – on Yas Island.
The upmarket The Galleria mall on Al Maryah Island has already recognised the value of the Chinese shopper having staged the emirate’s first major Chinese New Year celebration last February, said Al Shamisi.
“Next February The Galleria will stage another Chinese New Year celebration, which we are supporting, complete with lanterns, entertainment and fireworks.”
Al Shamisi said TCA Abu Dhabi has worked closely with stakeholders to identify the specifics of the Chinese tourist requirements and is looking to now meet them.
“We are now encouraging our stakeholders to sign up for the Chinese Tourism Academy’s hotel classification standard and the initial response has been very good indeed,” he said
“Chinese guests in Abu Dhabi can now look forward to hotels and resorts with Chinese speakers, Chinese stations on their in-house TV and acceptance of China Union Pay, kettles and tea-sets in their rooms, Chinese dishes on menus and buffets and discounts at certain outlets.”
Al Shamisi said Abu Dhabi’s mix of cultural and modern attractions, tax-free shopping and headline events meant there was more than enough to expand their stay in the emirate.
And, he said, the business events and incentive market within the People’s Republic is now firmly on Abu Dhabi’s radar with the emirate looking to build on the successful hosting, early this year, of the mega NuSkin incentive which brought upwards of 10,000 people to the UAE.
“We have the right product, at the right price for the Chinese outbound MICE market. We will be marketing our compelling case aggressively within the country,” concluded Al Shamisi.