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Tourists pouring into UAE despite region's hostilities, searing heat

Big News
12 Jun 2024

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Despite the turmoil in the Middle East and its impact on Gulf countries, tourism has continued to rebound with hotels and airlines reporting buoyant trade.

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, said Wednesday it carried 1.5 million guests last month, and saw its passenger load factor average out at 84 per cent across May.

The number of planes in service continued to increase while Etihad has expanded its footprint. The only contraction has been the sidelining of flights to and from Israel.

The conflict in Gaza, continual Israeli operations in Syria, and the constant flare-ups between Israel and Hezbollah, along with the Houthis targeting of shipping in the Red Sea, has failed to curb international travel in the 'Emirates.

Media coverage of the hostilities is largely muted in the UAE, with English-language media outlets preferring to pass on the hostilities and carnage in the region, although Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper has been out in front with its coverage.

The UAE in the midst of Summer with searing heat has continued to attract tourists, particularly from the UK and Europe. The hotel industry has helped by adjusting room rates down to reflect the off-season nature of the times, and the heat.

"We achieved a 38 per cent year-to-date increase in passengers, underscoring our strong positive growth trajectory, and our year-to-date passenger count has reached 7.2 million, meaning we've already welcomed two million more passengers this year than the same period of 2023," Antonoaldo Neves, CEO of Etihad Airways said Wednesday.

"This contributed to maintaining a healthy year-to-date load factor of 85 per cent against a considerable increase in capacity against the same period in 2023."

"Our rolling 12-month passenger numbers, to the end of May 2024, now stand at just over 16 million," Neves said.

"Our operating fleet size has risen by 15 aircraft year-on-year to 90, helping to fuel our growth," he added.

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