Chinese tourists are flocking to Abu Dhabi, where in the first seven months of the year their number grew 36 per cent to 23,618, with the emirate expecting further increases as the local industry develops tailored products and attractions to cater for the lucrative Chinese holiday-makers.
Addressing the second Chinese Visitor Summit attended by 75 top-tier Chinese travel buyers, Mohammed Al Dhaheri, director of strategy and policy, TCA Abu Dhabi, said the emirate’s tourism industry is now acutely aware of the need to tailor to specific Chinese needs.
“Local stakeholders are developing specific packages catering for peak Chinese travel times, such as Golden Week and Chinese New Year and are increasingly employing Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff to take advantage of opportunities afforded by the growing air links from China,” Al Dhaheri said.
“Abu Dhabi will continue to see sustained interest from the world’s biggest outbound tourism sectors, which spent $102 billion on international tourism in 2012. Chinese visitors are staying with us longer and in greater numbers, largely because there’s now much more to see and do with Yas Waterworld, public beaches on Yas and Saadiyat islands and a flurry of new hotels and resorts which have come on line,” he added. “With Etihad’s equity alliance partner Air Seychelles launch of three weekly flights from Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi in March has improved connectivity which has further been bolstered by Hainan Airlines’ decision to operate code shares with Etihad from Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai and moving its Gulf hub to Abu Dhabi International,” Al Dhaheri noted.
According to Visa, Chinese visitors spent $258 million in the UAE last year; up 14 per cent on the previous year, with the lion’s share, 85 per cent, going towards shopping, entertainment and accommodation – which Abu Dhabi’s tourism and retail sectors are keen to capitalise on with its growing portfolio of attractions and malls.
“Chinese visitors spent $182 million on retail in the UAE last year, up 11.4 per cent over 2011. We believe with these new mall openings, we will see this figure increase here,” added Al Dhaheri.
Abu Dhabi stakeholders are meeting the top-tier buyers at the Chinese Visitor Summit in a bid to win a share of their annual $5 million-plus budgets. The opulent Emirates Palace, which reports that almost a third of its current business is Chinese-driven and increasing 25 per cent yearly, has introduced special packages for the traditional ‘Golden Week’ and Chinese New Year holidays as have One To One hotels, Le Meriden Abu Dhabi, Yas Viceory Hotel, Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet and Jumeriah at Etihad Towers.
The two day Chinese Visitor Summit, which concludes Tuesday, matches qualified Chinese travels buyers with travel providers, DMCs, hoteliers, attractions and retailers that have identified the value and potential of the Chinese audience for their business success. Attracted primarily by UAE’s tax-free shopping opportunities, as well as ease of access and entry, today the Chinese traveller has varied interests including: culture & heritage; gastronomy; beaches; resorts and golf.
By Staff Report