Abu Dhabi expands into Italy
Capital's tourism authority launches offices in Rome and Milan
Italy has become the sixth country in the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s (ADTA) overseas network, joining existing offices in the UK, Germany, France, China and Australia.
The opening of ADTA’s Italian offices marks continued progression within the authority's five-year strategy, with expansion of its overseas network among its service delivery priorities.
Director tourism standards for ADTA, Nasser Al Reyami said the opening of the offices sent a strong signal to the international tourism industry of Abu Dhabi’s intention to pursue its long-term goal of developing into an international destination of distinction.
”Italy remains an important element in our long term vision of attracting 2.7 million hotel guests to the emirate by 2012,” said Al Reyami.
”Our case is strengthened by the plans of Etihad, the award-winning national airline of the UAE, is to increase its services from Milan’s Malpensa International to Abu Dhabi International to five flights a week from its current thrice-weekly service at the end of March.”
Etihad will operate a wide-body, twin-engined, Airbus A330, in a three class — first, business and economy — configuration, on the route. And Etihad believes the ADTA’s presence in Italy will add further credence to Abu Dhabi’s proposition in a market which is increasingly becoming aware of the emirate’s offering.
“There is huge potential for stop-over breaks in Abu Dhabi with Abu Dhabi International becoming a hub for Italians travelling with Etihad to onward destinations in Australia, to Muscat, India, Pakistan and Bangkok,” explained Marco Malato, Etihad Airways’ country manager in Italy.
“The stop-over potential will be boosted with our extra flights from Milan. Whereas currently travellers have a choice of 45 onward flights within three hours of arriving in Abu Dhabi on our existing three flights a week, this onward destination choice will exceed over 100 flights when the new five flights a week service comes into effect at the end of March.”
ADTA is now planning to roll out a progressive strategy to engage the Italian travel trade and consumers, via media penetration, over the coming year.
The programme will involve destination familiarisation trips, educational events, special promotions and increased participation in tourism fairs within Italy.
The move has also been welcomed by Abu Dhabi’s trade stakeholders who believe the Italian market has large, considerable untapped potential. “Awareness of the destination is growing within Italy, particularly its incentive and golf offering,” said Anwar Abu Monassar, general manager, Net Group – Abu Dhabi & Al Ain.
“2009 is going to be an important year for penetrating the Italian market with the opening of the new golf course on Saadiyat Island and the staging of the Formula One finale in November,” he said. “Here at BIT there has been considerable interest in the new Desert Islands destination on Sir Bani Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and the islands of the emirate could have significant potential, which is so far largely unexplored.”
In the first nine months of last year, some 19,742 Italian nationals stayed in hotels throughout Abu Dhabi putting the destination well on course to meeting, if not exceeding, the 26,621 Italian hotel guests received during the whole of 2007.