Abu Dhabi Seeking to Become Golf Destination

Abu Dhabi, the second-largest city of the United Arab Emirates, has announced a new initiative to boost golf-related tourism and get a piece of an industry estimated to be worth $17 billion annually.

The program, called "Golf in Abu Dhabi," involves marketing, communications, product packaging and a "distribution platform" to enhance the emirate's penetration in the golf-travel business.

The effort is being led by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which owns the annual European PGA Tour-backed Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. ADTA is working in partnership with golf clubs, hotels and destination management companies.

Key target markets include the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Scandinavia, China, Korea and Japan. Stay-and-play packages - some of which include flights, hotels and the on-ground transportation - are being formulated for three of the city's four 18-hole golf courses, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Abu Dhabi Golf Club (ADGC) and Yas Links Golf Club. (Also here are the nine-hole Abu Dhabi City Golf Club and the 18-hole Al Ghazal Golf Club.)

"Abu Dhabi's golf-tourism potential is immense and our competitive positioning will be considerably sharpened through active inter-stakeholder collaborations," said Dayne Lim, ADTA's product development director.

"For the last six years, our now globally-recognized championship has put Abu Dhabi golf on the map," he added. "In Yas Links and ADGC, we also have two courses that have been listed in Golf World magazine's top 100 golf courses, while our multi-year sponsorship deal with Matteo Manassero - the Italian prodigy who acts as a global golf ambassador for the emirate - is reaping global dividends for Abu Dhabi."

Assisting Abu Dhabi is price competitiveness. Average hotel room rates dropped 14 percent in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 2010.

The launch of the initiative comes just days after Tiger Woods announced he would make his debut in the Abu Dhabi championship in late January 2012, forgoing his traditional season-opening tournament, the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego.