AbuDhabi-SheikhZayedGrandMosqueThe Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority has begun on-the-ground U.S. operations, opening an office in New York City.

Abu Dhabi is promoting the emirate with a combination of marketing efforts ranging from a “takeover” of Times Square to branding collateral in the city’s taxis.

The ministry is also working with tour operators such as Abercrombie & Kent and Cox & Kings on travel packages, many of which will be offered on DiscoverAbuDhabiNYC.com.

Abu Dhabi is looking to attract more U.S. tourists to help reverse hotel revenue per available room (RevPAR) declines during the past four years that were caused largely by a boost in room supply, according to an HVS report released last month.

U.S. visitor counts to Abu Dhabi rose 16% last year to more than 486,000 room nights, making the U.S. the No. 2 international tourist source for the emirate. The U.K. is No. 1.

Etihad Airways, flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, operates nonstop Abu Dhabi flights from New York and Chicago, and will add Washington Dulles next March.

Last year, Abu Dhabi International Airport handled more than 12 million passengers, which was less than half of the air traffic through Dubai, a city 100 miles to the northeast.

However, the 12 million passengers was more than double the 5 million passengers handled in 2006, according to HVS.

Follow Danny King on Twitter @dktravelweekly.

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