DUBAI, April 1 (Xinhua) -- In the first two months of 2018, about 86,400 Chinese visited Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), up by 40.9 percent from 2017, the city said Sunday.
February alone accounted for an impressive increase of 83.6 percent over last year, due to the traditional Chinese new year holiday of Spring Festival, the Department of Culture and Tourism -- Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) said in a statement.
Popular tourist spots like Ferrari World leisure theme park and Yas Marina Mall held special events to celebrate the festival in order to attract Chinese tourists.
DCT Abu Dhabi said the emirate aims to attract 4000,000 Chinese hotel guests a year by 2021.
In a recent marketing tour to China, the leading source of tourists for Abu Dhabi, a DCT Abu Dhabi delegation visited three major Chinese cities in March to introduce the emirate as a travel destination.
Representatives of the Abu Dhabi government controlled carrier Etihad Airways, and managers of some Abu Dhabi hotels and tour operators were members of the delegation.
They visited China's capital Beijing on March 19, followed by Nanjing on March 21, and finally Guangzhou on March 23, for its annual roadshow.
"With a diverse range of leisure and entertainment options and plentiful supply of high-quality hotels and shopping malls, Abu Dhabi will continue to position itself as an attractive destination for Chinese travelers," said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, director of Promotions and Overseas Offices of DCT Abu Dhabi.
Al Nuaimi added that partnerships are set up with China's popular social media platforms, such as Weibo and Wechat, and search engine Baidu "to help DCT Abu Dhabi reach millions of new potential Chinese travelers."
Several tourist attractions and hotels across the emirate have already received the Welcome Chinese Certification of China Tourism Academy, which is awarded to destinations offering high quality services to Chinese visitors, including Mandarin-speaking staff.
In addition, the UAE implemented a visa on arrival scheme for Chinese nationals in late 2016, which has also helped increase the number of Chinese visitors.
Moreover, China Union Pay bank cards are widely accepted across many Abu Dhabi hotels and shopping malls, according to DCT Abu Dhabi.
Earlier last week, Etihad Airways said approximately 4 million travelers have used its routes between the UAE and China.
On March 29, the carrier celebrated 10th anniversary of its maiden eight-hour direct flight EY888 from Abu Dhabi to Beijing.