(MENAFN - Arab News) The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ABTA) launched on Monday a campaign to attract local tourists to visit the UAE's capital city during summer.
"Saudi Arabia is a potential tourism market for us. That's why we have just set up an office in Jeddah to promote Abu Dhabi as a destination for tourists from the Kingdom," Mubarak Hamad Al-Shamisi, ABTA country manager for Saudi Arabia, told a press conference.
The campaign, dubbed "Summer in Abu Dhabi," will run from June 21 to July 19 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC).
Al-Shamisi said it had taken ABTA this long to establish an office in the Kingdom although they believed in its tourism potential because "we have to make the necessary preparations in Saudi Arabia as well as in Abu Dhabi."
Asked what made him optimistic about the Saudi market for ABTA's summer campaign, he said that for the first quarter of 2012 alone, a total number of 22,000 Saudis visited Abu Dhabi.
"Last year, 62,000 tourists from the Kingdom visited Abu Dhabi. This number is expected to increase by 50 percent under the 'Summer in Abu Dhabi' campaign," Al-Shamisi added.
ABTA is upbeat about the tourism potential of the Kingdom because it has a strong economy, which enables its citizens and expatriates to have disposable incomes for travel.
Mubarak Al-Nuami, ABTA's international promotions manager, said: "Summer in Abu Dhabi" is a month-long, family-centered edutainment blockbuster highlighting an emirate-wide promotion featuring spectacular seasonal deals from the Etihad Airways, UAE's award-winning national airline, and more than 50 leading hotels and attractions.
He said that families heading to Abu Dhabi from the Kingdom and other parts of the Middle East as well as Africa will be entitled to special Etihad Airways offers which kids of 11 years and younger will fly free when accompanied by a fare paying adult passenger while youngsters aged 12-16 will fly for half price when accompanied by a full-paying adult.
"The offers are valid from nine destinations in the Middle East and Africa and will be on sale until Sept. 10 for travel until Sept. 15 with the exception of Eid. They represent fantastic value for those looking for a break in a safe, family-oriented destination with easy flying time," he said.
Abu Dhabi's hotels and apartments are backing the emirate's biggest summer campaign. Before arriving in Abu Dhabi, guests booking a room at any one of 49 participating hotels will get a second room free for a minimum of two nights' stay, enjoy free wi-fi in their rooms and receive complimentary tickets to the ADNEC festival for kids aged four to 13.
Once in Abu Dhabi, guests can take advantage of two-for-one deals across headline attractions including Al-Forsan International Sports Resort, a multipurpose sport destination; Al Ain's thrilling Wadi Adventure surfing, rafting and kayaking park; Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort; Emirates Park Zoo and Hili Fun City in Al Ain, the emirate's heritage heartland.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the world's largest indoor theme park, will provide a complimentary ticket for every child under 12 years old when an adult buys a ticket and the Big Bus Tour, which offers trips around the capital, and Saadiyat Island, an environmentally protected area only five minutes drive from Abu Dhabi's Corniche beachfront, will give two complimentary tickets for children under 12 years old when a adult buys a ticket.
Golfers can get two rounds for just 109 at the Abu Dhabi Gold Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club from Sundays through Thursdays. Ferrari World, the world's largest indoor theme park, will provide a complimentary ticket for every child under 12 years old when an adult buys a ticket and the Big Bus Tour, which offers trips around the capital and Saadiyat Island, will give two complimentary tickets for children under 12 years old when an adult buys a ticket.
"Our action-packed program will enthrall everyone from little kids to adventure-seeking teenagers and it's safe to say that we have really pushed the boat out; we expect 'Summer in Abu Dhabi' to spur significant inbound traffic from regional markets," said Faisal Al-Sheikh, ABTA's events manager.
He said the fun of "Summer in Abu Dhabi" campaign starts from the moment visitors arrive at ADNEC with a special train taking families from the car park to the festival entrance.
"Once inside, visitors can step back millions of years to the Ice Age Village featuring activities inspired by the popular Ice Age movies, the fourth of which will hit cinema screens this summer," he said.