An opportunity to invest in Abu Dhabi's warm travellers' welcome

The growth of Abu Dhabi as a commercial and tourist hub has had an enormous ripple effect in the local, regional and national economy. Abu Dhabi is a global energy hub, but it is also a world-class tourism destination with incredible beaches, fantastic restaurants and nightlife; unique hotels, unbeatable golf courses, waterparks and the world’s first Ferrari-themed amusement park.

Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven Emirates, covering 67,000 sq km – almost 80% of the entire UAE land-mass – and makes the largest contribution to annual gross domestic product (GDP).

Abu Dhabi is the capital city and political centre of the UAE and is a growing regional business hub. The capital is also the country’s economic powerhouse, holding 94 per cent of the UAE’s oil and 93 per cent of the UAE’s gas.  However, tourism is of growing importance to Abu Dhabi’s economy, having been highlighted by the government as a key sector to support diversification in its Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 strategy.

As a result, the past decade has seen significant sums invested in developing facilities and infrastructure to help the emirate break into the highly competitive global leisure market. In 2014, Abu Dhabi welcomed almost 3.5 million visitors to its 25,000 rooms in 160 hotels and hotel apartments.

Travel and tourism contributed AED 56.5 billion (US$ 15.4bn) to the UAE economy in 2013, representing 4% of total GDP, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), an industry body. According to the WTTC Tourism Satellite Account for Abu Dhabi, the value of purchases by tourism providers within the emirate, including imported goods, reached AED 9 billion (US$ 2.64bn).

Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Investment Strategy

Considerable government and government related entity (GRE) investment has been made in developing the emirate’s principal tourism hubs, and in the coming three years the emirate will welcome flagship cultural institutions such as Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. All three are expected to open their doors in consecutive years on Saadiyat Island, and are set to add a contemporary cultural offering to complement the existing UNESCO inscribed heritage attractions in the emirate’s second city Al Ain, and as a welcome addition to the attractions, experiences and events of the established entertainment destination, Yas Island.

Establishing a tourism investment strategy to support the government’s strategy in the sector-which has involved a considered approach toward expanding capacity predicated upon sustained investment in quality tourism and transport infrastructure - is an important initiative that Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) is implementing to drive direct economic benefits and social benefits to both residents and visitors alike.

In line with the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, TCA Abu Dhabi has a mandate to establish Abu Dhabi as a world leading tourism destination by diversifying into non-oil GDP industries; a tourism-centric approach in attracting investors towards developing more global assets will stimulate the Emirate’s growth in line with the government’s vision.

The investment strategy is therefore based on many factors. From the overarching economic benefits, to the investors’ relationship with Abu Dhabi, the Authority’s strategy is to  build a solution to match willing investors who are eyeing the emirate with investment opportunities, and supporting the growth, sustainability and proliferation of Emirati SME’s within the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector.

The primary objectives are therefore:

• To promote awareness in tourism in Abu Dhabi, its programmes and projects and investment promotion activities

• To support the Abu Dhabi’s investment attraction mandate (Law # 2 2011, Article 4)

• To act as a catalyst for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Abu Dhabi

• To determine investment opportunities of built assets and service provision

• To enhance the Abu Dhabi experience for residents and visitors alike

TCA Abu Dhabi’s role is to attract and retain foreign and domestic tourism sector investment to promote innovative solutions in the tourism sector through developing and strengthening relationships with key government. In turn, this will support the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.

Tourism investment is a critical component of a sustainable tourism sector, and the mandate of the Authority is to develop, coordinate and promote foreign and local investments (Assets and Services) across the Emirate.

Investment in assets (product and infrastructure) is essential for destinations and businesses to support tourism visitation and experiences. Meanwhile investment in services (operations) is necessary to activate and utilise assets in the best way to capture their value.

By attracting and retaining local and foreign investment for the tourism industry, TCA Abu Dhabi will be the catalyst to bring together internal and external stakeholders to ensure comprehensive and holistic solutions are implemented in order to maintain and enhance Abu Dhabi’s visitor proposition.

Invest in the Best

The Abu Dhabi 2030 plan has laid down a target for the emirate to achieve 7.9 million visitors staying in excess of 80,000 hotel rooms. The destination is on the road to achieving this, and the prospect for positive return on investments from investing in one of the world’s fast growing tourism destination is high, with the emirate considered an unsaturated market.

The introduction of a programme of targeted investment underpins TCA Abu Dhabi’s ongoing commitment to developing the tourism sector.

Abu Dhabi offers investors an opportunity to pioneer projects in assets or services and generate greater exposure for brands due to Abu Dhabi’s excellent global positioning as an emerging destination. Many investors will also consider the destination as a springboard to other cities in the region and the world.

From Abu Dhabi, By Abu Dhabi, In Abu Dhabi

The Tourism Sector, acting on this methodology has taken steps to diversify their offering and is being encouraged to consider wider engagement with local entrepreneurs to boost the value of the emirate’s tourism value chain.

The fundamental aim is to boost home-grown products and services and encourage private sector involvement in the tourism sector to deliver an authentic experience. A priority is to see tangible results within the emirate’s hotel industry through providing unique, distinct products sourced though local goods and services. In turn, this will encourage Abu Dhabi-based SMEs to grow their businesses and become more competitive locally and internationally.

The introduction of specialised visitor experiences, such as the Abu Dhabi Pearl Journey - an authentic and informative visitor experience operating from the Eastern Mangroves Marina which highlights the emirate’s pearling past aboard a traditional Jalboot dhow - operated by Emirati-entrepreneur Ali Al Saloom, are now regularly featured in tour operator programmes and recommended by hotel concierge across the capital.

Authentic dining experiences such as Mezlai, the emirate’s first fine-dining Emirati restaurant, and  Al Fanar at the Ritz-Carlton Venetian Village - the UAE’s first and only restaurant offering traditional authentic Emirati cuisine – are now regularly sourcing locally-farmed produce from the Abu Dhabi Farmers Services Centre, to the benefit of local farmers.

The tourism industry is also delivering on the 2030 plan’s goal of delivering a socially cohesive and economically sustainable community through the growing number of Emiratis who are now entering the industry on a number of levels.

The emergence of an increasing number of private sector SME experience providers is testament to the tourism industry’s keen focus on Emiratisation within the sector. 

We work very closely with key government agencies and key players in the tourism sector to enhance and improve the skill set of Emirati nationals for the purpose of increasing their participation in the tourism sector work force. This is achieved through raising awareness of the importance of the sector, and through increased engagement with Emirati’s to building their capabilities.

Many budding entrepreneurs seek support from Government backed investment initiatives – such as the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.

However, the emirate’s entrepreneurial talent-pool is vast and seeking opportunities and willing investors to support their initiatives.

Advantage Abu Dhabi – The Emirate’s emergence as a global hub

In Abu Dhabi you’ll find a destination of distinct diversity – of terrain, peoples, traditions and ambitions. The emirate’s rich heritage is governed by a deep-rooted respect which characterises its past, informs the present and will influence its future.

Nature has been bountiful to Abu Dhabi, bequeathing it 700 kilometres of beautiful coastline and a plethora of natural islands surrounded by warm, clean waters inhabited by a magnificent array of fish and marine life. This is the territory of the stately dugong, of graceful dolphins and fascinating Hawksbill turtles.

This is also a land of awe inspiring desert, of cooling oases and dramatic rocky mountain heights. The landscape’s legacy is a cultural kaleidoscope forged from the needs of harder times when the sea and date palm oases provided much needed sustenance. This nurtured a steadfast respect for our heritage, traditions, surroundings and for bestowing hospitality to travellers. 

Having recently undergone a significant enhancement in its tourism infrastructure, Abu Dhabi is better placed than ever to meet the highest expectations of the world’s business visitor.

Blessed with UNESCO inscribed World Heritage sites, the Oasis city of Al Ain is the emirate’s heritage heartland, representing 5,000 years of civilisation. Ancient traditions, crafts and pastimes are preserved reflecting an evolution of Emirati culture which holds true today.

The emirate’s commitment to culture is epitomised in the planned Saadiyat Island Cultural District. This will be home to the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural assets – the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi later this year will add a new cultural dimension for business visitors, and with the Zayed National Museum opening in 2016 and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi expected in 2017, this proposition will be further strengthened and provide an unrivalled visitor experience.

Yas Island – the emirate’s entertainment destination – is home to an array of fabulous visitor experiences such as Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas WaterWorld, world-class facilities of Yas Marina, Seven hotels, a Championship ready links golf course, and the emirate’s largest mega-mall.

Experiences and attractions such as the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, traditional souks, architectural landmarks and iconic hotels provide something for everyone, with any interest.

Sustainable development of the tourism sector is a priority, identified as an engine of Abu Dhabi’s future economic growth in the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, a comprehensive plan for the diversification of the emirate’s economy, and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) is responsible for delivering this function.

Abu Dhabi is the capital city and political centre of the UAE. It is a growing regional business hub, and has an ambitious blueprint for developing its business events industry. Already ranking among the top 100 busiest global meetings destinations in the International Congress and Convention Association’s (ICCA) global cities league, efforts to catapult into the top 50 within five years are constantly being stepped up a gear. The 23 association meetings held in the emirate in 2013 have elevated it into 22nd place in Asia Pacific & Middle East rankings, and the capital anticipates further progress in the 2014 table.

Business Tourism has been identified as a key economic diversification driver in Abu Dhabi. Studies commissioned by TCA Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) suggest the economic impact from business events in Abu Dhabi will increase by approximately 7% per annum on average up until 2020 based on historic performance. The direct economic impact of business events sector is expected to reach Dhs5.1bn ($1.4bn) by 2020.

Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau, a division of TCA Abu Dhabi drives and supports the development and promotion of business events throughout the emirate efficiently, effectively, and transparently, and in partnership with all its stakeholders, aligned with the Abu Dhabi Government’s 2030 Economic Vision to deliver social and global empowerment and strategic and economic impact.

Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau assists with any planners’ needs under a ‘One Destination’ collaborative stakeholder approach and acts as a one-stop shop, offering free advice, help with planning, and local knowledge, as well as ensuring congress and convention delegates are well versed with the range of experiences available to them pre-, during or post- visit.

Key assistance provided by the ground-breaking Advantage Abu Dhabi scheme aimed at catalysing and seeding innovative and viable business events is expected to keep visitors coming in their droves.

The initiative, aimed at the corporate meetings and incentive travel segments offers 13 structured packages designed to enhance the emirate’s appeal amongst sector-specific bookers and support for these initiatives can range from start-up financial grants, governmental endorsement and leadership patronage; to cost rebates and marketing to bolster the entire proposition.

To qualify for this, the corporate meeting must meet the following criteria:- the meeting must include a minimum of 50 paid room nights, must be from a single corporation or organisation and must occur in 2015 or 2016. In return we offer a basket of offerings which increases the more room nights booked and includes free one day meeting packages, complimentary room nights, city tours and hosted dinners.

Applicants can also benefit from an ‘Abu Dhabi Welcome Pack’ for all delegates including city map, visitors’ guides and souvenir gift and pre-event marketing support (images, text, collateral) while also being able to use Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau logo on all event marketing as ‘Official Destination’ or ‘Official Destination Partner’, as well as within all printed materials (brochures, flyers, banners, programme booklet, etc) and on all electronic collateral (website with hyperlink; email, etc)

Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau champions the emirate as a dynamic global business events leader, working in partnership with stakeholders to drive forward and support the development and promotion of business tourism in Abu Dhabi.

International conference and exhibition organisers, together with business event organisers with a viable proposal can also apply to the initiative for start-up financial grants, governmental endorsement, leadership patronage, cost rebates and marketing support among others.

Key decision-making factors are accessibility, safety, affordability, support, local strong association members and an interesting destination – and we believe Abu Dhabi qualifies on all points!

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