by Edward Robertson
Abu Dhabi is hoping to nearly double its visitor numbers in the next five years.
Abu Dhabi Tourismn Association director of marketing, Julie Bishop, said the destination received 1.45 million hotel guests last year, of which Brits formed the largest proportion, and is aiming for 2.7 million by 2012.
It is hoped the growth will be driven by an international advertising campaign, which is still in the earliest stages of planning, set to be launched towards the end of next year.
She added: “Abu Dhabi is a cultural destination. We are not endeavouring to position ourselves in the mass market, we are about quality products for discerning cultural visitors.”
Bishop said Abu Dhabi will market itself as both the cultural and ecological centre of the Middle East and it is hoped this will help drive the visitor increase.
Bishop said two world-famous art galleries – the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Louvre Abu Dhabi – are currently developing outposts in the country, while the Yas Marina Formula 1 racetrack will attract motorsport fans.
Meanwhile, the Sirbani Yas Island, one of six islands being developed for tourists, has opened complete with a 64-room boutique hotel and is set to become a haven for the country’s wildlife.
*More WTM 2008 coverage at travelweekly.co.uk/wtm2008