Lack of beds stunts Etihad growth

The bed shortage in Abu Dhabi is impeding the aggressive expansion plans of UAE national carrier, Etihad Airways as well as its holiday division. “Our growth is being hampered by the lack of available hotel accommodation and the problem is getting worse,” Nick Wood, general manager, Etihad Holidays, told ATN.

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By  Gemma Hornett Published  June 7, 2006

The bed shortage in Abu Dhabi is impeding the aggressive expansion plans of UAE national carrier, Etihad Airways as well as its holiday division. “Our growth is being hampered by the lack of available hotel accommodation and the problem is getting worse,” Nick Wood, general manager, Etihad Holidays, told ATN. “There are several hotels that are either closed or being refurbished and although the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) is clearly trying to drive development, there is a severe shortage of rooms in the short and medium term.” Although Etihad Holidays’ outbound business is growing rapidly, with 25 new destinations added to its recently launched summer 2006 brochure, Wood said the division’s biggest market was inbound, driven by demand from Germany and the UK. “Ultimately these areas will be bigger for us by virtue of their populations,” he said. Tourists from both countries are either visiting Abu Dhabi for a UAE-based holiday, or stopping over in the emirate for a few nights before travelling on to Asia, he added. With Etihad Airways now serving 40 destinations worldwide and more routes in the pipeline, inbound business is on track to keep rocketing, further exacerbating the Abu Dhabi room shortage, particularly during the busy summer period. The 330-room InterContinental is currently closed for renovations, although when it re-opens in October or November, 60 rooms will have been added to the inventory. Novotel Centre Hotel is also in the process of refurbishing its guestrooms. Fortunately, Le Meridien in Abu Dhabi recently re-opened its doors after undergoing total refurbishment and boasts 233 rooms and 68 cabanas. Abu Dhabi’s recently established Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) has announced that 5000 extra hotel rooms will be available within the next 12 months and that 17,000 will be added over the next five years. Hotels set to open in the short term include the Fairmont Abu Dhabi Resort & Villas, which will be based at Marina City and boast 400 guest rooms and 100 serviced apartments when it opens in 2009, and two Rotana properties. The Khalidiya Palace Rotana Resort will open in 2007 and the Park Rotana Resort and Hotel will be ready in 2018. Room counts for each are yet to be decided. In the longer term, the TDIC is overseeing a large-scale project dubbed Saadiyat Island, the construction of which will take part in three phases and is due for completion in 2018. A seven-star hotel, luxury resort and several three- and four-star hotels will be built on the mixed-use island. The TDIC is also overseeing the development of 47-storey Emirates Pearl next to Kempinski’s Emirates Pearl, comprising 352 rooms and suites, as well as serviced apartments.

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