Tourism Farmhouses the latest draw for Abu Dhabi’s tourists By Andy Sambidge August 30, 2023 Unsplash/Raychel Sanner The government wants farm owners to develop and promote agri-tourism experiences Licences issued to farm owners Agri-tourism development encouraged Emirate targets 24m visitors in 2023 Abu Dhabi is turning to farmhouses to add diversity to its tourism as the emirate aims to attract more than 24 million visitors in 2023. Authorities in the UAE capital are set to introduce a comprehensive policy framework to license and promote farmhouse tourism activity, with farm owners encouraged to develop and promote Emirati-led agri-tourism experiences. The Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi (DCT-Abu Dhabi) has updated its holiday homes policy, with farmhouse owners able to obtain licences to transform their properties. Abu Dhabi lowers hotel fees to entice more tourists Abu Dhabi airport reports 67% spike in passenger traffic Sustainable tourism the new priority for Middle East The update is designed to diversify accommodation available in the emirate and offer new economic opportunities to farm owners. According to Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority, there were more than 24,000 farms in the emirate in 2020. Abu Dhabi remains the only city in the UAE that is still below its pre-pandemic benchmark for occupancy rates, by 1.7 percentage points, say CBRE. Average daily rates and revenue per available room have increased by almost 13 percent and 10 percent respectively. The holiday homes policy now includes farm stays, caravans and RVs, allowing landlords and residential unit owners to obtain more than one holiday home licence for multiple units. Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry, director general for tourism at DCT–Abu Dhabi, said the expansion of the holiday homes licensing policy “will support both Abu Dhabi’s hospitality and agri-tourism sectors”. Farmhouse owners have a grace period of six months to initiate the licensing process for their properties, aimed at avoiding any potential penalties. It is the latest initiative to increase growth in tourism and follows an announcement earlier this month to lower government hotel fees. Consultants JLL said Abu Dhabi’s average daily rate for hotels increased by 26 percent for the year to June to $137. City-wide occupancy rose to 71 percent, resulting in a rise of 28 percent in revenue per available room, which stood at $97. No notable hotel projects were completed in the capital during the second quarter of 2023, keeping the total stock stable at 32,500 keys. In the remaining six months of this year, another 200 keys are slated to be handed over.