Abu Dhabi tourism making ties Down Under
Abu Dhabi tourism officials launched a roadshow this week to encourage more Australians to visit, emphasising the strong UAE links with pop singer Dannii Minogue, swimmer Ian Thorpe and others.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority took the show to Brisbane and Melbourne over the past three days. Latest figures show a 24 per cent jump in Australians booking hotels in Abu Dhabi in May, compared to the same month in 2011. More than 3,500 Australians stayed this year, the ADTCA figures showed.
Etihad Airways last month bought more than five per cent of Virgin Airline’s Australian subsidiary as the emirate focuses on attracting tourists from Down Under.
The airline operates 21 weekly flights to Abu Dhabi and hired Minogue as an ambassador.
V Australia flies three times a week to Sydney from the UAE capital.
The TDIC and Abu Dhabi hotel groups on the roadshow highlighted the close sporting and cultural ties between the UAE and Australia.
Ties with the emirate include Olympian Thorpe, who trained in Abu Dhabi and golfer Adam Scott, who has bought a villa on Saadiyat Island. Australian football captain, Lucas Neil played for local side Al Jazeera last season, while leading triathlete, Nikki Butterfield, was winner of the $250,000 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon. Masterchef Australia’s George Calombaris took part in the 2012 Gourmet Abu Dhabi food festival, while Minogue, is a spokeswoman for Etihad Airways.
The roadshow comes as a major University of Queensland study of Australian tourists found that most see Abu Dhabi’s neighbour Dubai as a safe, secure and low-crime holiday destination. The study, undertaken by the university’s tourism department, found that most of the Australian focus group also complained that Dubai lacked historic and major cultural sights to see.
Those surveyed also found that it was “too western” and not as immersed in Arabic culture as other parts of the Middle East.