NEW YORK — In a bid to attract tourists from the United States, the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority opened a dedicated promotion office in New York City.
The office, which is staffed by a team of four and led by Country Manager Kershing Goh, will represent the emirate’s interests in developing tourism from the US.
As part of the office launch celebrations on Thursday, the authority kicked off a multi-faceted campaign, which includes the takeover of New York City’s Times Square, branding initiatives involving the Big Apple’s iconic yellow taxis as well as a slew of new attractive travel offers to the Arabian emirate recently described by the USA’s Travel & Leisure magazine as “fast developing into the hottest destination in the Middle East”.
“Our aim is to take the taste, sound, sight, touch and scents of Abu Dhabi to one of the centres of New York’s action,” said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, the authority’s chief of International Promotions.
Aptly themed ‘Travellers Welcome – A Taste of Abu Dhabi’s Hospitality’, the Abu Dhabi Interactive Pop-Up has taken over Times Square’s Father Duffy Square till May 19. It gives visitors a glimpse of the true Abu Dhabi offerings, with a traditional majlis in the iconic landmark offering dates and coffee, henna artists, perfume mixologists and more.
Captivating video footage depicting the emirate’s future progression — from the highly anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi to Masdar City, the world’s first carbon-neutral, zero-emissions city — is being screened, while those with a sense of adventure is given an opportunity to interact with a falcon and trainer. Also on-site are Ayala dancers, performing traditional dances.
Etihad Airways is also present welcoming guests to the Pop-Up experience and offering exciting giveaways. “Opening a US office was a natural progression for us,” said Dayne Lim, Product Development Director, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority. “Abu Dhabi is rapidly becoming an important travel destination and with all the exciting developments over the next few years, it will be a destination to reckon with. We believe what we have to offer will appeal to visitors from the US on both business and leisure fronts. With increased air access from the US planned, this is a timely initiative.”
Travel and tourism drive
To coincide with the launch, Abu Dhabi has partnered with leading tour operators Abercrombie & Kent, Cox & Kings, Linara Travel, Ritz Tours and Goway Travel to introduce travel packages to the emirate.
The opening of the US office is Abu Dhabi’s first major foray into America and a part of the emirate’s measured efforts towards economic diversification of which tourism is a key pillar. American hotel guest nights in Abu Dhabi have been steadily growing over the years reaching 486,488 nights, a 16 per cent increase in 2011 from 2010. Based on guest nights, the US is the emirate’s second international source market for Abu Dhabi.
On the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) front, Abu Dhabi has also welcomed a number of significant groups from the US, including significant American participation in February’s World Ophthalmology Congress with 12,000 attendees and the destination’s largest congress to date.
More flights on cards
Heightened air connectivity between the US and Abu Dhabi is on the cards with Etihad Airways planning to launch daily, non-stop services between Washington D.C. and Abu Dhabi International Airport from March 31 next year. The airline currently operates daily, non-stop flights from JFK New York and Chicago to Abu Dhabi International Airport.
With the number of visitors far exceeding expectations in 2011, and the impressive opening of leading hotels and resorts over the last several months, Abu Dhabi is emerging as a strong competitor in the travel sector.