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Visit Abu Dhabi or Dubai?
The UAE capital promises to be a “luxury global cultural destination”. But tourism officials insist Abu Dhabi is not competing with its northern neighbor.
February 23, 2010 5:43 by Aarti Nagraj
“A luxury global cultural destination.” That’s the brand image Abu Dhabi wants to create for itself, according to Lawrence Franklin, director of Strategy and Policy at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).
Speaking at the Abu Dhabi Economic Forum on Tuesday, Franklin said that Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector grew better than expected last year, and has already seen double digit growth so far this year. While the emirate had set a target of 1.5 million hotel guests for 2009, it witnessed 2 percent growth, amounting to almost 1.6 million guests. In December alone, the city witnessed a 28 percent growth in tourist numbers, and an 8 percent increase in revenues, Franklin said.
Attributing the rise in visitors mainly to the Eid holiday and events such as the Formula One and Fifa World Cup, Franklin said that business tourism in the emirate was also very high. “We have a growth target of between 10 to 15 percent in the next three years,” he said, adding that Abu Dhabi was quite confident of reaching this target. The emirate is aggressively seeking to promote itself, and is also increasing accommodation facilities to cater to the rising number of visitors.
But is Abu Dhabi trying to overshadow its struggling neighbor Dubai, which has traditionally been the more thriving tourism hub?
“Obviously as a destination we are trying to differentiate ourselves from other destinations,” Franklin tells Kipp. “Having said that, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are obviously part of the UAE, part of the same country and we also know that there is a strong and increasingly significant interrelationship between the two destinations,” he says.
“A lot of people talk about ‘do you compete with Dubai’ sort of thing. The reality is we are actually quite complementary in many ways. We have recently started collecting broader visitor statistics and they are actually demonstrating to us that there are a lot of people who are choosing to stay in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi as part of their itinerary,” Franklin says. And that is beneficial for the country as a whole, he adds.
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