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Landmark tourism website launches in Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates: Wednesday, May 29 - 2013 @ 16:04

The launching of ‘hotelandrest.com’ site at the Emirates Palace Hotel was attended by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan as well as senior officials, hotel managers, tourism operators, travel agents, and local media representatives.

Al Muhairi said, “The launching of this website is part of efforts to develop online services devoted for stimulating tourism in the country, adding that that this would promote the UAE’s culture and heritage and at the same time produce economic, social and cultural gains.”

The project, the first in the region, coincides with international data showing the UAE pumped a whopping Dhs82.8bn into the tourism sector in 2012, nearly 55% of the total tourism investment in the Middle East of around Dhs150.8bn.

The figures by the World Travel Council showed the UAE is projected to attract almost 19% of the total 10.9 million visitors expected to come to the region in 2013. The report showed foreign tourists spent an estimated Dhs121.1bn in the UAE last year, nearly 42.2% of the total spending by tourists to the region. It also showed the tourism sector in the UAE contributed nearly Dhs193.6bn to the GDP in 2012.

In her address, the website’s manager Mrs Haneen al Dawoud said the project would work to support the tourism sector in the UAE and maintain its position as a major global tourism destination.

“Our goal was to provide the Arab tourists and guests a package of information about hotels and restaurants they seek in the UAE but could find difficulty in identifying their real destination,” she said.

“When we thought of starting this website, the main challenge was how to obtain the maximum data in this respect and how to offer them clearly and simply to the tourists and visitors. In this regard, we exerted strenuous efforts. We first launched the website on a trial basis and presented it to many experts and analysts so they can help us develop this project in order to be liked by all those who surf this site. Indeed, it was not an easy matter but we had set a bigger objective and were determined to achieve it,” she added.

She said, “The main objective was to offer everything that is associated with the tourism industry in all its sectors, including hotels, restaurants, airports, travel agents and other related facilities.” She noted, “The UAE has become one of the top 50 tourism destinations in the world after it was recently ranked 31st by a specialized organization, adding that this is a great achievement which “prompted us to seek perfection.”

“We had been optimistic in realizing this dream because the UAE has stunned the entire world by its accomplishments over the past 20 years. No one could believe such a desert nation would become a major tourism destination regionally and internationally. But it happened and the UAE did make a miracle, thanks to the country’s wise leadership,” Mrs Al Dawoud said.

“So how we in the UAE will not be able to fulfil this dream and be a small part of the UAE’s grand achievements. So we set out to realize that vision, set a goal, identified our vision and worked hard. Today, we are proud to present to you this landmark website and formally launch it at this important gathering of travel and tour experts,” she added.

The website’s editor Mrs. Amal Al Sarraj told reporters later that clients would be able to have access to hotels and resorts in key markets though this website in Arabic and English.

She said, “The launching of such a site was prompted mainly by a surge of nearly 49% in the number of Arab-speaking tourists to the Middle East, adding that visitors to the site would be able to obtain information on hotels in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other key cities besides offers and other facilities presented by those hotels.”

“Our website will allow our visitors who cannot speak English to benefit from lower prices and other offers listed online and there is no doubt this will contribute to stimulating business for the hotels and other establishments that join our website,” she said.

The website’s managing editor, Ahmed Al Majaida, said, “The decision to set up this project followed projections that UAE spending on marketing through social media would peak at nearly $3bn (Dhs11bn) in 2014. He said studies have also shown that spending on smart phones, tabs and laptops could reach $30bn in 2013.”

“Social networks have become an easily accessible site worldwide and one of the fastest-growing information systems,” he added. “We believe the so-called new media will be the focus of investors seeking to invest in internet media…we also believe that the region will shift from normal media investment to investment in internet media and this means quick access to news through mobile and smart phones,” he concluded.

The project also followed statements by chairman of the GCC chambers federation Khalil Khanji that the six GCC countries could pump in excess of $18bn by 2015 on new hotels and other tourism facilities to cater for an expected surge in the number of visitors to the region. He also estimated the six members would allocate nearly $380bn to tourism projects until 2018.

The website is the first of its kind in the region and offers a list of the most popular hotels and restaurants through the UAE, allowing visitors to select the right outlet and book with just a click of a button.

Abu Dhabi-based Iris Media, a fast-growing private media venture, manages the site which was launched on a trial basis by UAE tourism officials at the World Travel Market show in Berlin early this year.

Al Dawoud said, “Recently that the site provides tourism news services in both Arabic and English to serve all hotels and restaurants in the UAE, including room rates, restaurant menus, discounts and other special offers and that it will encourage people to spend their holidays in an atmosphere of luxury and joy and the lowest prices.”

“The site also provides an extra service to hotels which do not have Arabic language website and this will allow them to communicate and interact with all Arabic speaking visitors and identity their needs…it will also allow visitors to book hotel rooms and tables at restaurants associated with this site, which will publish extensive information and pictures on regional hotels and restaurants to acquaint customers, mainly those from the GCC, with the latest services offered by those facilities,” hr added.

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Wednesday, May 29- 2013 @ 16:04 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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