For nation-states, regions and cities, destination branding is more relevant than ever. Vital forattracting allies, investment and visitors, those that fail to brand effectively get left behind. With the effective fine tuning of a strong ramified brand, Abu Dhabi has accepted this rationale. Lee Tabler,CEO, TDIC explains, “In line with Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s strategy of delivering managed growth,we are adopting a leadership role in the arena of environmental preservation, for example. TDICis working on delivering a hospitality landscape underscored by managed growth, where changes will be gradual and measured.”
Strong place brands are important for four reasons
• Attracting business and foreign direct investment
• Attracting visitors
• Recruiting the best and the brightest
• Wielding political and economic influence
When it comes to TDIC, in existence since 2006, its success in the delivery of best practices can be “tangibly measured by the partnership with world class operators across a number of segments– culture, architecture, construction, leisure and hospitality.” Because of this, Tabler explains, “We have encouraged leading international brands to enter the Abu Dhabi market.” By creating and facilitating projects that add to the emirate’s unique positioning and reinforce a memorable tourist experience, TDICis participating in establishing an image based on positive national values and perceptions on which the emirate can rely when promoting sustainable socioeconomicd iversification, exports and services. In this sense, the destination becomes a valuable tool,conveying an emotional and intangible componentthat can affect investment decisions. Even thoughits shareholding is fully owned by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), TDIC’s ambition is to transform from“a relatively small scale player to a major organisation which plays a key role in the development of Abu Dhabi’s tourism infrastructure”.
Clearly, its relevance is becoming increasingly evident in the tourism sector in which TDIC is involved.With competing locations vying for global tourism spend, destinations offering similar high quality products are being pushed to devise that extra sales edge that makes destinations ‘stand out’ from the crowd.
So, what challenges does TDIC face in ensuring its operations serve the truest interests of its stakeholders and of Abu Dhabi? Tabler clarifies, “It is in ensuring that our stakeholder values are delivered across every segment of the developmental chain.This requires additional research and preparation time,exceptional human resources and partners whose operational and delivery rationale is in total synch with our own.” He adds, “TDIC is distinguished in that the company’s approach is not purely commercially driven. Though TDIC does have to stand on its own feet economically, is has responsibilities to the community of Abu Dhabi and to the emergence of the destination in terms of economic, cultural and socio-economic sustainability.”