Capital gets the okay for Uftaa annual meet

ABU DHABI - Impressed by the capital's excellent infrastructure that allows the holding of mega conferences and events, the board of directors of the United Federations of Travel Associations (Uftaa) - an international body of travel trade - has given the nod for Abu Dhabi to be the venue for its annual congress to be held sometime soon, giving a big boost to the tourism industry.

By (By a staff reporter)

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Published: Tue 17 Feb 2004, 11:44 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:44 PM

Concluding a two-day meeting of the board of directors, Chairman of Uftaa Udaya Nanayakkara and Chief Executive Officer Birger Backman told a Press conference here on Monday that the members of the board were deeply impressed by the tremendous strides made by the emirate during the last five years in expanding the necessary tourism infrastructure by investing billions of dirhams.

The airport, hotels, and exhibition centres are superb and match the standard of international covention hotspots. The Uftaa representatives said they had no doubt that Abu Dhabi had a great future in attracting international events, which would also provide a new direction to the local hospitality industry.

Mr Nanayakkara said that the board had deliberated on issues facing the travel trade worldwide, including visa regulations and travel advisories, which had resulted in a decline in the tourism trade. "Sometimes, travel advisories are issued on political considerations and are general in nature, but its negative impact on travel and tourism is colossal," he said.

Mr Backman said that the tourism industry had been passing through a period of recession since the last few years, with 9/11 having pushed many airlines to bankruptcy. Sars and Bali bomb blasts have also contributed to further hitting the tourism industry. "Though of late, the reduced airfares and hotel tarriffs have managed to pull the industry from the brink, it hasn't really given it the much-needed boost," he said.

Mr Backman said that the age-old conflict in the Middle East had badly impacted on the tourism potential of this region. Criticising the tightening of visa restrictions introduced by certain western countries to screen out unwanted travellers, he said these measures would do no good to the travel industry, and felt there were better means to trace such people, like through proper intelligence.

He said the Uftaa was a lobbying body operating on a global level, representing the sensitive business of aviation, ground and sea transport operators, hotels, tourism and hotel associations.



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