By Peter Townson www.gulf-times.com
As part of their efforts to further develop tourism in Abu Dhabi, tourism officials have announced the launch of the fourth ‘Summer in Abu Dhabi’ festival next month, with the event tripling in size in its attempt to continue attracting visitors from the GCC during the hottest part of the year.
The festival begins on June 15, running until July 30, during which time the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) will be transformed into a fun-filled indoor arena.
Various other attractions and hotels are offering a number of special rates and discounts for visitors during the festival.
GCC families, who have not travelled elsewhere for the summer, are the primary target for the festival, which provides a large range of activities and attractions during what can often be a quiet and uninteresting time of the year for children.
The event is organised by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), representatives of which were in Doha yesterday to discuss the offering and meet with tourism and travel agents to discuss business opportunities.
Events manager from ADTA, Faisal al-Sheikh, explained that the deals will take in some 12 main attractions throughout the emirate, including Big Bus Tours, Caracal Shooting Club, Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort, the Al Forsan International Sports Resort, Al Ain Raceway, Yellow Boats, Falcon Aviation’s helicopter tours, Al Ain’s Hili Fun City, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi Golf Club and the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.
The deal will also include a ‘kids go free’ offer for Ferrari World, while ADNEC tickets holders will also be granted free entry.
The GCC is the second most important market for Abu Dhabi in terms of tourism, with 29,253 nationals staying at hotels in the emirate during the first quarter of 2011.
However, the number of visitors from Qatar dropped from 6,476 to 5,012 over the same period compared to last year, and officials expressed their hope and expectation to see an increase throughout the remainder of 2011.
“We remain on course to achieve our target of accruing 2mn hotel guest nights this year. Every event in our dynamic year-round calendar meets the objective of raising the profile of the destination, which continues to mature and offers more – and at better value – than ever before with hotel rates having reduced by almost a quarter in the past year,” added al-Sheikh.
The ADNEC show will feature activities including ‘Adventure World,’ ‘Smurf World,’ and ‘Cartoonival’ among many others, giving children the chance to interact with favourites such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Spiderman and many others.
“We have packed the programme this year to live up to the expectations of over 90% of last year’s visitors who said they would return and the more than two thirds who said they would recommend it to others,” said al-Sheikh.
“Qataris are high on our target audience list because of the close proximity to Abu Dhabi. Etihad, the national airline of the UAE, flies from Doha International to Abu Dhabi International Airport 27 times per week, while Qatar Airways operate the same route 35 times per week,” he added.
Discounts and packages at Yas Island have also been included in the event schedule for the first time.