Abu Dhabi lays out red carpet for Chinese visitors

Delegation has been in town for the third Chinese Visitor Summit

Members of the Chinese delegation at Yas Island
Members of the Chinese delegation at Yas Island

The tourism and hotel industries in Abu Dhabi are looking to build on the stellar growth in the number of Chinese visitors to the emirate in the first half of the year.

According to data released by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), around 59,518 Chinese visitors checked into Abu Dhabi’s hotels and resorts during the first six months of the year, up 189% on the same period in 2013. Total guest nights hit 105,915 guest nights, up 171% year-on-year.

The emirate has this week been hosting the third Chinese Visitor Summit at the Rosewood Abu Dhabi Hotel, with 75 travel agents and tour operators and a contingent of Chinese media attending. One of the key focuses has been attracting more visitors and getting them to stay for longer.

"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," Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau Director Mubarak Al Shamisi

"We’re obviously delighted with this progress but face a challenge. 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."

He added that Abu Dhabi had the right product mix for Chinese tourists including tax-free shopping, which will be enhanced in November with the opening of the expansive Yas Mall – the U.A.E.’s second largest – on Yas Island.

Among the hotel chains participating in the summit, organised by Dubai-based NPI and i2i Group China has been Millennium & Copthorne.

It has a Chinese website and has launched a WeChat app, the mobile communications tool used by over 70 million people in China, to attract more visitors from the country.

“This is an ideal opportunity for us to speak with some of the most influential buyers from the Chinese market. We’re in a fortunate position – Chinese tour operators are well aware of our brand, with 10 hotels in mainland China and a further 13 properties throughout South East Asia,” said Millennium & Copthorne Middle East & Africa vice president of sales and marketing Naeem Darkazally.

“Moreover our 17 hotels in the Middle East region are well placed to serve Chinese visitors, situated mainly in urban locations, convenient for shopping malls (branded luxury consumer products are much cheaper in UAE than in China), sightseeing and of course supporting the extensive MICE calendar

“We often see Chinese leisure travellers dividing their stay between several hotels during a three to seven-night stay, so having a portfolio of brands that cover all segments will help satisfy this demand.”

Earlier this week, the visitors from China were given a tour of Yas Island, including the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the Formula 1 track at Yas Marina Circuit and Yas Links Abu Dhabi.

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