Targeting 2.4 million tourists by end-2013, Abu Dhabi  hotels recorded a 16 per cent jump in revenues in the first half of this year to Dh2.7 billion over the same period in 2012 despite a slight fall-off of three per cent in average room rate to Dh447 in the period, according to the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority  (TCA Abu Dhabi).
The number of guests at the emirate’s 145 hotels  and hotel apartments went up by 12 per cent to 1.3 million in the first six months of the year over the corresponding period, with an occupancy rate of 71 per cent.
“This heightened performance, despite significant increases in resort and hotel inventory, justifies our increased efforts in trade engagement and international marketing and promotion and the expanded product operators and investors have put into the destination,” Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General of TCA Abu Dhabi, said in a statement.
He added that the tourism  body expects further increase in the second half of 2013 owing to the Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi Art, the Al Ain Aerobatics Show, a number of headline concerts on Yas Island and major sporting events including the Fifa Under-17 World Cup and the Wake Park World Championship Finals in addition to major international events such as the International Conference on Neurology and Epidemiology and the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum.
Amer Numan Ashour, a chief economist and analyst at CNBC Arabia, told Gulf News that the UAE, mainly Dubai and Abu Dhabi, had benefitted from the events in the region.
“The unrest in Tunisia, Turkey, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and other countries in the Middle East has made foreign investors and tourists appreciate the stable economic environment of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In other words, regional unrest has enhanced UAE’s status as a tourism and financial hub in the Middle East,” said Ashour.
Another reason that played a pivotal role in the increase of numbers of guests to Abu Dhabi is the 11th International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) which was held in Abu Dhabi in February, which recorded 80,000 visitors over five days.
“Meetings Incentives Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) business is a major contributor to the tourism industry as it brings around 20 to 30 per cent of the tourists to the country,” said Ashour.
According to TCA Abu Dhabi, the direct economic impact of MICE business events on Abu Dhabi is expected to grow by seven per cent annually over the next eight years to reach Dh5.1 billion by 2020.
The total contribution of these business events to the emirate is Dh2.4 billion, tourism authority figures show.
Indians top guest list:
TCA said that Indians  led the guest numbers at Abu Dhabi hotels in the first half of 2013 with 80,179 Indian nationals having stayed in Abu Dhabi hotels during the period.
UK nationals came second with 78,053 Britons staying in Abu Dhabi hotels, a nine per cent increase on last year, followed by Germans with 62,488 guests.
Russia, however, turned in the biggest percentage growth with 13,094 Russians checking in, marking a 46 per cent increase on the previous year.