by Lisa A. Grimaldi | January 24, 2018
A record 4.875 million visitors - a 9.8 percent year-over-year increase from 2016 - stayed in Abu Dhabi's 162 hotels and hotel apartments in 2017, according to the United Arab Emirate capital city's Department of Culture and Tourism.
"Record numbers of people are visiting Abu Dhabi year after year, and we continue to go from strength to strength in positioning ourselves as a distinctive global tourist destination steeped in culture and heritage," said Saif Saeed Ghobash, director general of the DCT. "A near double-digit year-on-year growth in the number of guests staying in all three regions of the emirate is testament to our drive and determination in helping the emirate evolve into a 'must-visit' place on any traveler's itinerary. Abu Dhabi's unique cultural archetypes, combined with diverse natural landscapes, cultural and historic sites, dynamic family-leisure entertainment and ambitious business opportunities, will continue to stimulate visitation and help us grow by 11 percent per annum to achieve 8.5 million visitors by 2021. However, we more than ever are aware of the challenges we face in supporting key metrics such as length-of-stay and occupancy rates for the emirate's hotels, and are working hard to continue the focus on these measures." 
Guests from China, Abu Dhabi's largest overseas source market, increased by 60 percent; the rise was attributed to the recent easing of visa restrictions for Chinese visitors to the UAE. Guests from India, the second-largest international source market, increased by 11 percent, while U.S. guests rose by 23 percent.
Among the events that the DCT credits for the boost in hotel guests was the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum this past November and WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017, the world's largest vocational-skills competition, which took place in October at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center.
"Combined with our ongoing international marketing and promotional activities and our excellent collaboration with strategic partners, including our national airline Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi Ports, we will continue to evolve and lead Abu Dhabi's tourism proposition to achieve new levels of excellence, implementing new initiatives and working closely with the private sector, while striving to achieve new record numbers of hotel guests," added Ghobash.