ABU DHABI IS BECOMING KNOWN FOR HOSTING HIGH-PROFILE INTERNATIONAL SPORTING EVENTS. DESMOND HATTON, GENERAL MANAGER, DUSIT THANI ABU DHABI, EXPLAINS WHY THE EMIRATE IS A DESTINATION OF CHOICE.
Q& A with Desmond Hatton
GENERAL MANAGER, DUSIT THANI ABU DHABI
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: How successful was the last quarter of 2017 for your company? Please share the latest statistics if possible.
DESMOND HATTON: The last quarter of 2017 was a mixed bag of opportunities and challenges for the hotel. Overall, the business sentiments in the fourth quarter were positive and the hotels in the city competed fiercely to get their fair share of the market.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: What are your main feeder markets and what, in your opinion are the main reasons they choose Abu Dhabi as a sports destination?
DESMOND HATTON: The main feeder market for the hotel is definitely the Middle East, followed by Europe and emerging Asia. Abu Dhabi is a rising city when it comes to hosting international sports events. This is mainly attributed to the commitment of the local authorities towards sports and the allied infrastructure that is in place.
The city has successfully staged world-class sporting spectacles such as Formula One, Red Bull Air Race, HSBC Golf Championship, Abu Dhabi Cycling World Tour, Jiu-Jitsu Championship, ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi and FINA High Diving World Cup to name a few.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: How do you believe these qualities can, and should be further developed? Are any significant projects related to this industry currently underway or in the pipeline?
DESMOND HATTON: There can be more opportunities of collaboration between the stakeholders, including hotels, airlines, travel agents and local authorities to promote the destination internationally during these sports events in Abu Dhabi. It will provide a concrete base or buffer to the city that is currently reeling under the pressure of oversupply and limited demand.
The most anticipated sporting event of the decade will be 2019’s Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi. Needless to say, the city is gearing up for the games and preparing full steam to ensure seamless logistics.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: Are there any other upcoming high profile sports-related events you would like to tell us more about?
DESMOND HATTON: Undoubtedly, the Formula One has been the most successful sporting event in the recent times for the emirates capital city. Trailing closely, Mubadala World Tennis Championship has also been able to draw crowds over the last couple of years. The likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams among other tennis stars have awed the audience in the past with their striking knocks on Abu Dhabi soil. The HSBC Golf Championship has also been a success.
Besides the sports events mentioned above, the city has or will be hosting Abu Dhabi Cycling World Tour, Jiu-Jitsu Championship, ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi and FINA High Diving World Cup.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: What are some of the other activities a visitor to Abu Dhabi, or their families, can indulge in when not actively engaged in sports or watching a match?
DESMOND HATTON: Abu Dhabi is primarily a cultural and arts hub of the Middle East. Louvre Abu Dhabi, Grand Mosque and Manarat Al Saadiyat are truly the region’s most popular cultural sites worth visiting. Furthermore, the city boasts of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and an interesting mix of mall concepts, especially Yas Mall. There’s never a dull moment in Abu Dhabi. The tourists can bask some sunshine by the beachside on Corniche, Saadiyaat or even tee off at the city’s popular golf courses. The options to indulge in Abu Dhabi are limitless.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: Is there anything else you would like to add?
DESMOND HATTON: The Abu Dhabi is poised to grow further in the coming years. In the wake of the Dubai Expo 2020 and the upcoming Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi the city is definitely on a trajectory. However, on the flip side, the industry has become excruciatingly competitive with the opening of new hotels, resulting in the softening of the rates and eventually, hitting the bottom line of the hotels.
Bracing all odds with a sense of optimism, the hotel industry leaders and veterans feel quite bullish about the Abu Dhabi market in times ahead. In the midst of the upcoming projects, the business outlook looks bright for the emirates’ capital city.