Around 60% of international visitor arrivals in Abu Dhabi are first-time visitors to the emirate, reveals an Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) survey.

The interim ADTA report, based on interviews during the final quarter of 2009, also found that 87% of these visitors would consider a return trip.

Around 1,100 international overnight guests answered a range of issues as they visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the emirate’s shopping malls, hotels and other important attractions.The survey revealed 31% of visitors travel with their spouses and friends, 28% travel on their own, while families made up a further 16%.

Strategy & policy director at ADTA, Lawrence Franklin, said: “The survey delivers crucial insights into key inbound tourism drivers. One of the most important results was that 86% enjoyed their stay, rating their overall experience as very good or excellent. A massive 92% said they would definitely, or probably, recommend Abu Dhabi to others.”

The study also showed that the average visitor stay was seven days, extending to eight days for those visiting friends and relatives. Business visitors stayed, on average, nine days and those involved with MICE activities visited for five days.

Around 30% came to the emirate after hearing about it from a friend, 23% had been to the UAE before and returned to explore it further, while 15% had previously visited the region and wanted to discover another of its destinations.

More than three-quarters of those interviewed took in Abu Dhabi’s Corniche during their stay, 73% visited the shopping malls, followed closely by the opulent Emirates Palace Hotel which attracted 72% of visitors. The iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque attracted 46% of survey respondents. Nearly half of visitors (48%) bought souvenirs, while 45% spent money on clothes and 24% opted to take home locally produced date products.

ADTA expects to survey 5,000 visitors in the exercise, which will run until September 2010.

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