Display of local hospitality shown to stranded passengers on Abu Dhabi holidays during volcano ash disruption
Much to the delight of anxious travellers who were left stranded during their Abu Dhabi holidays due to the volcanic ash flight disruptions, the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority together with Etihad teamed up to give free tours to the country's top attractions
Some of the lucky / unlucky (we leave it for you to judge!) 2,500 travellers stranded during their Abu Dhabi holidays without being able to return home due to the volcanic ash situation were shown extraordinary Arabian hospitality as they were offered complimentary tours of the emirate’s top attractions to keep them entertained during the anxious waiting period.
After being unable to reconnect to onward transit flights because of the volcanic ash that grounded many flights and closed airports across Europe, guests forced to longer Abu Dhabi holidays have been given special attention as the local travel and tourism industry sprang into action to avoid their Abu Dhabi holiday experience being ruined by the unfortunate circumstances.
The initiative, spearheaded by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), saw Abu Dhabi hotels and Etihad – the award-winning national airline of the United Arab Emirates popular for taking customers to Dubai holidays and Abu Dhabi holidays – pull together guided tours of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for over 200 people who were staying in hotels on Yas Island. Offering every additional comfort to stranded holidaymakers, ADTA provided buses to pick up the passengers. Other tours also took families to the expansive Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort.
Additionally, working closely with its industry stakeholders, ADTA provided the passengers with discounted tours to ‘explore, experience and engage’ with the holiday destination during those longer-than-expected Abu Dhabi holidays. These included kayaking tours through mangroves, Big Bus and helicopter tours, hot air balloon expeditions and reduced green fees at four of the UAE capital’s golf courses.
The guests also received Abu Dhabi information packs and complimentary gifts.
Some were so pleased with the outstanding efforts made by ADTA to make guests’ longer stay a most pleasurable experience, that they confessed they were glad to be there during the volcano incident: “I have never been here before and the visit to the mosque has encouraged me to reconsider another visit, more at my leisure, as it is obvious there is plenty to see and enjoy,” said Irishman Mathew Kelly who was stranded on Saturday morning confessing the delay was a “blessing in disguise” as it gave him the chance to get to know more about Abu Dhabi.
“Etihad staff have been very professional throughout all this and the people in Abu Dhabi are very welcoming and generous, and this magnificent treatment encourages me to return” - Kelly added.
For their part, ADTA said the initiative put its Traveller’s Welcome promise into action, giving travellers the opportunity to truly explore Abu Dhabi holidays.
“We are currently working with partners on creating stop-over programmes for the very healthy numbers of passengers transiting Abu Dhabi International Airport,” said Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General, ADTA. “This has been an unexpected trial run but the response has been highly encouraging and demonstrates the potential.
“We pride ourselves on our hospitality here and this was a chance to make the stay of many of the grounded passengers much more rewarding and enjoyable.”
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