2019 was another successful year for tourism in Abu Dhabi, and with the number of visitors from the US increasing by 5% from 2018, the capital of the United Arab Emirates highlighted its travel sector at the 2020 New York Times Travel Show.

The Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) organised the emirate’s participation in the show, which is designed to encourage American tourists to come to the city this year.

The show played host to a dedicated panel discussion on the offerings in Abu Dhabi, led by DCT Abu Dhabi destination marketing director Saeed Al Saeed.

Al Saeed was joined on the panel by Expo 2020 Dubai destination marketing director Sumathi Ramanathan, Google industry manager Shinez Chalabi, and Etihad Airways business development director Amanda Leung.

New York Times travel writer Michael Luongo moderated the panel.

DCT Abu Dhabi’s tourism and marketing executive director Ali Al Shaiba says that the company believes that the success of 2019 was partly the result of last year’s New York Times Travel Show presentation.

This is the reason why DCT Abu Dhabi returned to the show in 2020, with this year including Expo 2020.

As a tourist destination, Abu Dhabi is able to offer captivating cultural treasures and a number of world-class events, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi and one of the biggest indoor theme parks in the world.

Abu Dhabi is able to keep celebrating rich traditions while embracing the modern world, and DCT Abu Dhabi is proud to get to showcase all that the emirate has to offer with the help of the New York Times, Al Shaiba says.

Al Saeed told industry professionals at a Middle East travel panel that the way to attract more American tourists to Abu Dhabi was by customising the tourism product.

There has been the deliberate creation of specific districts, including the family-oriented Yas Island and Saadiyat Island, which contains premier cultural assets such as Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and is the biggest concentration of such assets in the world.

Al Saeed says that the result is the creation of opportunities for highly personalised experiences that will resonate deeply with visitors, from tourists across all groups to cultural explorers.

Abu Dhabi has been working alongside Google on the delivery of customised messaging that reflects what the destination has to offer to niche audiences, which Al Saeed says proved to be a very effective approach.

Because of this, Americans using Google to search for Abu Dhabi have increased in number by 13% per year on average, hitting as many as 4m searches in 2019.

Abu Dhabi also has a very high level of premium standards and safety, according to Al Saeed.

Visitors often note that navigating the emirate is easy and stress-free because of how safe it is, claims Al Saeed.  

Travel show attendees could take part in a digital activation in order to try to win a trip to Abu Dhabi that is all expenses paid thanks to Etihad Airways.

Anyone who is travelling to Abu Dhabi or elsewhere in the UAE should take out travel insurance to guard against financial repercussions from events such as cancelled flights and lost luggage.


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