Any time a country or region imposes any sort of visa stipulation - even if it’s a waiver - the travel industry sighs a collective groan, knowing the obstacles and headaches to come.
MONTREAL — Abu Dhabi hopes to reach 25 million visits during Expo 2020 and says success for the global event won’t be possible without the help of travel agents around the world.
The Abu Dhabi team was at the Sheraton Centre Hotel in Montreal on Monday (attended by Travelweek’s sister publication,
ProfessionVoyages.com) and in Toronto yesterday to promote the destination and its assets. Front and centre for both presentations was the blockbuster flagship event coming up for the UAE: Expo 2020. It kicks off Oct. 20, 2020 and runs through April 10, 2021 and will occupy a 1,083-acre site between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The event is the perfect occasion to visit the UAE’s beautiful cities, including its capital, Abu Dhabi, say organizers.
Abu Dhabi has it all: desert, modernity and authenticity. Abu Dhabi is a city where traditions and modernity mingle together, with a location that’s right next to the desert. The city is less extravagant than Dubai but it still knows how to impress its visitors.
Indeed, it’s an “extraordinary destination, with diverse landscapes,” says Natia Kvachadze, of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Abu Dhabi. “It’s a city full of culture and history and business opportunities. We have more than 200 islands. A few kilometres away from the city, there are charming villages and authentic hotels such as the Babl Al Qasr, Jumeirah, Qasr Al Sarab and Emirates Palace by Kempinski.”
Qasr Al Sarab, part of Anantara Hotels and Resorts and the NH Hotel Group, is two hours away from Abu Dhabi by car or 50 minutes away by helicopter and offers luxury lodging in the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world. There are sand dunes looming up to 656 feet high all around the hotel.
Abu Dhabi is not only a big city with lots of cultural and historical attractions, it’s also ideally situated right next to the beauty of the desert. Visitors can have a lot of fun in Abu Dhabi too; it’s the home of the world’s first Ferrari-brand theme park, an award-winning waterpark and the Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi theme park, which opened last summer.
What’s new in Abu Dhabi? There’s Qasr Al Watan, the presidential palace that just opened to visitors. There’s also Qasr Al Hosn, the oldest and most significant building in Abu Dhabi. It reopened in December 2018.
Abu Dhabi is also popular for cruises and boasts a new permanent cruise terminal at Zayed Port.
Meanwhile Expo 2020 will offer no less than 60 live events every day for six months, with the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. Many Canadians remember Montreal’s ‘Man and His World’ Expo ’67 as one of the defining moments in this country’s history. At Expo 2020 in the UAE, visitors can discover the whole world in one place.
Expo 2020 will have the capacity to welcome up to 275,000 visitors per day. In total, some 25 million visits are expected over the six months of Expo 2020, and 70% of them will be international visitors.
With a major event like Expo 2020 comes a lot of infrastructure, and work is well underway. A brand new metro station, Route 2020, will open for the occasion and will connect directly to the site in 20 minutes from Dubai Marina.
Some 190 countries are already confirmed to participate in the Expo. Ticket prices are currently pegged at $31. Admission will be free for seniors.
How to get there? Etihad Airways, one of the partners taking part in this week’s events with Abu Dhabi, is the national airline of the UAE. Some 18.6 million people flew with the airline in 2017. Etihad has increased its frequency on its Abu Dhabi-Toronto route, from three times a week to five times a week. For people flying from other Canadian cities, Etihad Airways has codeshare agreements with WestJet and Air Canada.
A webinar titled ‘Abu Dhabi: Maximizing Experiences and Your Returns’ is scheduled for June 27. For details see https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/18176426012359171.