posted on 10/07/2012: 730 views
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which backs Volvo Ocean Race contesting outfit, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, hosted more than 15 top Eire travel and tour operators in Galway, Ireland, as part of the gruelling round-the-world sailing event's final showing.
The hosting came Irish hotel guest numbers to the emirate continues to climb with the Emerald Isle now entering Abu Dhabi's top 25 source markets. In the first five months of this year, some 5,451 Irish guests stayed in Abu Dhabi hotels - a 19% increase over the same period last year.
Using the Volvo Ocean Race as its backdrop, TCA Abu Dhabi - the first Official Destination Partner for the race - stressed the emirate's emergence as a leading winter water sports destination.
"We are seeing increased interested in Abu Dhabi from the Irish market as local travellers are looking at safe, warm and diverse holiday options," said Nabeel Al Zarouni, Country Manager UK & Ireland, TCA Abu Dhabi.
"With increasing air links between the two and a wider hospitality and leisure offering, we are in our strongest position to date to win increased Irish custom.
"This race is great for us to promote Abu Dhabi's water sports credentials to an international yachting audience and to a nation that has a long history with the sea, much like ourselves. With a wealth of marinas and sailing schools coming online in Abu Dhabi, coupled with our own natural assets, such as 400km of coastline and 200 natural islands, the potential for would-be skippers and leisure seekers is growing."
Etihad Airways, the UAE's national airline, is now flying 10 times a week from Dublin to Abu Dhabi city. Its representatives were also on hand in Galway to promote the company's award-winning produce to the travel professionals.
Karen Maloney, Leisure Sales Manager, Etihad Airways said: "We remain dedicated to the Irish market, we have a new Dublin Town office and full-time Etihad Airways engineers at Dublin Airport. Etihad Airways has also resigned a five year deal with GAA Senior Hurlingham Club. As a further sign of our commitment to this market, we are the only Middle Eastern airline to have its own dedicated business class lounge at Dublin Airport."
Tour operators, who also got to sail with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing on its state-of-the-art Azzam yacht, which means determination in Arabic, were thrilled with the experience.
Maura Fahy, Fahy Travel Galway, said: "Going out on Azzam was the highlight of the race week. I've been to Abu Dhabi before and thought the destination was fantastic; we try and sell it as much as possible. I'm really excited by all the new developments, especially those on Saadiyat Island."
Francis Grogan, Grogan Travel, added: "I absolutely loved Abu Dhabi when I went, the hotels were excellent and the service was exceptional."
According to Abu Dhabi's 2030 plan, the government hopes to set up 45 marinas with enough space to cater to 10,000 luxury yachts on top of the current six that expect to serve up to 1,600 vessels over the next 20 years. This is in line with Abu Dhabi's hotel guest projections, which anticipate 7.9 million guests a year by 2030. – AMEInfo.com
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