Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is to launch its own destination management company (DMC). The new DMC aims to provide a diverse range of leisure and business activities for visitors to Abu Dhabi and the UAE.
Etihad is currently in discussion with local tourism partners, with the new DMC set to support the development and enhancement of the capital's tourism infrastructure.
Although the final specifications of the DMC are yet to be finalised, many goals have already been put in place which include tours and desert safaris, event management, bespoke experience packages and VIP services all promoted under one brand and delivered with consistent quality across all participating local tourism and service partners.
Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways' chief commercial officer, said: "Abu Dhabi continues its impressive growth towards becoming a key global business and leisure destination and the Etihad Airways destination management company will be a central part of achieving these ambitions.
"The establishment of the DMC is another example of Etihad responding to the requirements of the UAE's capital city and we look forward to launching this one-stop inbound tourism shop in close cooperation with our destination partners and tourism services providers across all seven emirates which will work closely with both Etihad Airways and Etihad Holidays."
The new DMC will work closely with Etihad Holidays which will publish its first dedicated Abu Dhabi and UAE brochure in April.
Abu Dhabi was named in 2007 as one of the world's top 10 destinations by the UK's largest online travel agent, expedia.co.uk, and won the World Travel Award for ‘best new tourism destination' in the same year.
During 2007, Abu Dhabi received some 1.45 million hotel guests and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has recently raised its hotel guest projections for the coming five years. The upgrade, revealed in ADTA's five-year plan for 2008-2012, puts projected annual hotel guests at 2.7 million by the end of 2012 - a rise of 12.5 per cent over initial projections made in 2004.
These visitor numbers will be driven by Abu Dhabi's growing role as a regional centre for business, as well as its many new visitor attractions under development.
These include the Yas Marina Formula One race track, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the eco-friendly Saadiyat Beach Golf Course, designed by golfing legend Gary Player as the Arabian Gulf's only ‘ocean' course with several beachfront holes.
These new developments will require a boost in hotel rooms in Abu Dhabi. ADTA predicts 25,000 rooms will be needed by 2012, up 13,000 from today's figure.