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Abu Dhabi to Attract 3Mil Visitors by 2015
By Jamal Al Majaida
Simon Stamper(left), General Manager of the InterContinental Abu Dhabi meets with Jamal Al Majaida in an interview.

ABU DHABI- The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) is aiming to attract up to three million visitors and 25,000 hotel rooms by 2015, a three-fold increase from the current annual average, according to a tourism expert.

The planned US$6.8 billion extension of Abu Dhabi International Airport and the expansion of Etihad Airline will support this growth, said Simon Stamper, General Manager of the InterContinental Abu Dhabi in an interview.

Among the international hoteliers and landmark hospitality properties benefiting from and contributing to the rapid economic growth in Abu Dhabi is Intercontinental Abu Dhabi which has recently reopened its doors again after a multi-million dollar renovation.

It now boasts state-of-the art facilities, a 234-seat auditorium and a multitude of attractive upcoming promotions, he added.

Stamper said the registered record occupancy rates at the property which has been a landmark in Abu Dhabi for over a quarter of a century was attributed to the strategic location.

The hotel has played a major role in the development of the country's capital and the recent renovation has taken its facilities to a new level reaffirming its place in the future of Abu Dhabi as a world-leading travel and business destination.

He cited the increase in the number of visitors to the capital, including both business and leisure travellers as another key factor driving the high occupancy levels in the emirate.

The business boom the city has experienced in the past few years, he said, has ultimately resulted in attracting a larger number of business travellers.

The emirate of Abu Dhabi is in the midst of a hectic tourism development and is ushering into a new era of huge ambitious tourism projects.

Returning business travellers, said the expert, are already enjoying superior levels of hospitality at the new and extended facilities and the recent increase of room portfolio from 330 to 390 rooms and suites in addition to lavish food and beverage options.

With the rapid growth and competition in the emirate posing daunting challenges for its hotel industry, the hotel has maintained a strong position at the forefront of the UAE capital's growth and has played host to the world's premiers and politicians for over 25 years.

The multi-million dirham renovation that was completed last year has taken the facilities to a new level in order to cater for an increasingly discerning and exciting market, according to Stamper who added that the property now houses seven state-of-the-art meeting places, two ballrooms, a tiered 234 seat auditorium and beautifully landscaped private gardens, which can accommodate up to 2500 guests for outdoor events.

"We work closely with ADTA to identify ways in which we can contribute to the ongoing development and economic growth of the capital, as well as towards achieving our common goal of putting Abu Dhabi firmly on the global map," he said.

ADTA also has, amongst its various activities and responsibilities, been integral to the development of the Meeting, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions business.

In coordination with Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) they have introduced and launched a number of exhibitions such as GIBTM, Cityscape and others which attract business from around the globe, added Stamper.

Etihad Airways has played a crucial role in driving the economic growth in the UAE, he remarked adding that airline's expansion has not only led to the creation thousands of jobs but has been key in supporting and driving tourism, business and investment in the emirate.

The airlines ambitious plans to expand its international route network, as well as increase its flight schedule frequency with existing major cities around the world, is already transforming Abu Dhabi in a global hub.


Etihad signs deal with Ferrari

Etihad Airways has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the Ferrari F1 team, the current Formula One world championship holders.

The airline's chief executive officer James Hogan signed with the Ferrari F1 Grand Prix team, ahead of the opening Formula One race of the season in Melbourne on March 16..

The Abu Dhabi-based airline's name will feature prominently on the rear wing and side of the world's most famous red cars throughout the 18-race 2008 Formula One season.

Mr Hogan said, "Sports sponsorship is a major part of Etihad's marketing strategy and the growing association we are building with Formula One is a key driver to enable us to reach a global audience.

"With a TV audience of 2.5 billion people in nearly 200 countries, the association with Ferrari will give Etihad enormous worldwide exposure and help bring Abu Dhabi to the world.

"Ferrari is already developing a close association with our Abu Dhabi home base, through an exciting new theme park being built in the city, so this deal represents a natural partnership for Etihad. We share similar ambitions, to be the best in our respective fields."

The iconic Ferrari racing brand is set to open a US$ 600 million, 2,500 acre theme park in 2009 that will include 24 attractions.

The highlights of 'Ferrari World' will include a 70-metre tall G-Force Tower, the world's first F1 branded twin roller coaster ride which will allow races between carriages, simulator rides, a race track, luxury hotels, apartments, villas, a golf course and dozens of restaurants.

Ferrari is already sponsored by Mubadala Development Company, an investment company owned by the government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi with the company holding a 5% stake in the 2007 world championship winning F1 team.

Luca di Montezemolo, chairman of Ferrari, said, "We are pleased to enter into this new partnership that reinforces our links with the United Arab Emirates. The collaboration with Etihad Airways is in addition to that with the Mubadala Development Company, which is already a sponsor and shareholder of the company. Then there is Abu Dhabi where the first Ferrari theme park is being built."

Etihad Airways' logo will have prominent branding on the Ferrari F1 cars and the drivers' helmets, starting at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix. Etihad will also feature on the clothing of Ferrari's two drivers, F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen and his driving partner Felipe Massa, from the Malaysian Grand Prix at the end of March.

The Ferrari F1 team sponsorship deal follows a separate three-year deal signed by Etihad Airways in December 2007 to become the title sponsor of the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, starting with the inaugural event in 2009.

The deal will see the F1 race in the UAE's capital city named the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix until 2011.

Etihad's involvement with the Ferrari F1 team is the latest high-profile sports sponsorship for the airline, and complements existing partnerships with Chelsea Football Club, Harlequins Rugby Football Club and the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.



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