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The two-day workshop held here recently highlighted not only the achievements of ADTA’s European offices but also the concerns regarding tourism in Abu Dhabi. All western participants agreed that they have to restrain advertising and promotion, so that the demand could meet the supply.
Jenny Todorovic, ADTA public relations manager for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, said that more foreign tourists wish to come to Abu Dhabi than the city can accommodate.
“The hotel capacity here is an obstacle and to add to that most hotels here are business and not leisure oriented,” said Todorovic.
She also pointed out that the offer of leisure activities is somewhat limited. “Most European tourists choose Abu Dhabi because it is a uniquely Arabian destination and the hosts here definitely need to do more about the heritage and other activities offered,” Todorovic suggested.
In 2006, 108,000 German tourists visited Abu Dhabi, most of them to enjoy the sun, the beach, the shopping and the occasional desert trip.
According to Todorovic, the number was quite a success, considering that in 2005, when ADTA opened in Germany, media representatives would call in to ask where Abu Dhabi was. “We had to train travel agents, often by bringing them here. We also organised roadshows, workshops, seminars, consumer and trade shows, in order to promote Abu Dhabi,” said Todorovic.
Similar promotions and activities were undertaken by ADTA UK, which was established in January 2006. “Here, we are in fact targeting the high-end segment of the market,” pointed out Ian Harrower, country manager for ADTA UK.
Researches done in England last year revealed that the British tourist was aware that the UAE capital is quite different from Dubai, Muscat or other destinations in the Gulf.
“Abu Dhabi is more relaxing, more focused on culture and heritage, which is authentic and not developed, like in so many other countries,” said Harrower.
He also explained that in the past few years UK tourists have changed remarkably. “The British tourist doesn’t want just a sun and beach holiday any longer. They want to explore different cultures and environments,” Harrower added.
This type of exploration, along with shopping and the golden sands, either by the beach or deep in the desert, brought 115,000 UK tourists to Abu Dhabi in 2006, compared with 206,000 who went to Dubai.The latest ADTA office to open in Europe was in Paris in November 2006, covering not only France, but also Belgium and Luxembourg. “What the average French guy knows about Abu Dhabi is desert, camels and oil,” said Philippe Mugnier, regional director for ADTA France.
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