ABU DHABI - Having only opened to tourists six years ago to allow visitors the chance to experience the fascinating world of falcons and falconry, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH) has already been nominated for an international award. ADFH is shortlisted for the 20th World Travel Awards’ (WTA) Middle East's Responsible Tourism Award category as one of three best responsible tourism entities in the Middle East. The voting is now open to the public and ends on April 4, 2013. If ADFH wins this regional award, it will make the final shortlist of nominees in the ‘World’ category.
ADFH, which was established by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) in 1999, is today the largest falcon hospital in the world. Since it was established, it has cared for more than 55,000 patients from the Gulf region, treating and examining more than 7,000 falcons each year. Six years ago it began opening its doors to tens of thousands of tourists from all over the world, making it one of the most sought after tourism destinations in the Emirate.
The annual WTA programme has become known as the most prestigious and comprehensive in the travel and tourism industry, where votes are made by professionals working within travel and tourism, as well as the general public. The category for which ADFH is shortlisted for is the Responsible Tourism Awards, which recognises individuals or organisations that are making a significant contribution to the culture and economies of local communities and are having a positive impact on biodiversity conservation.
The hospital began welcoming tourists in 2007, as a major diversification of its services. Since then, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital has experienced an annual increase of visitors by 20%. The guided tours feature a combination of cultural tourism and wildlife tourism, and are held twice daily on weekdays in English, Arabic, French and German. In 2012, ADFH established an advanced online booking system for its tours through its website www.falconhospital.com, and teamed up with major tour operators and hotels to make tour bookings for local and international visitors even more accessible.
The ADFH has promoted its tour programme on the international stage in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority through exhibits such as: the World Travel Market in London, UK; the International Tourism Fair in Berlin, Germany; the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, UAE; as well as Top Resa exhibition in Paris, France. In recent years, ADFH has received 16 international awards for the quality and excellence of its various services from Europe and USA. Among them are two special awards for its unique tourism programme such as the International Award for Tourist, Hotel and Catering Industry (New Millennium Award) from Spain in 2009 and 2010. Moreover, in 2012, the hospital received the Certificate of Excellence by the world’s largest travel site, Trip Advisor, for its tour programme which recognizes ADFH for earning exceptional traveller ratings over the past year.
With the opening of its Shaheen Conference Center in 2009, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital complemented its successful leisure tourism programme and embarked on event and business tourism as the perfect venue with a difference. Apart from conferences, workshop and training, this conference centre can be booked for events, gala dinners and birthday parties.
ADFH provides comprehensive services for a wide range of customers. These services include falcon treatment and lab services equipped with the latest technology where the lab acts as the Avian Influenza Reference lab for the Abu Dhabi Emirate. ADFH also houses the first animal shelter for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, where pets for adoption are kept and neutering for the Trap-Neuter-Release programme takes place, as well as a pet care centre which offers services such as surgeries, boarding, grooming and dog training. The hospital also carries out a Falcon Breeding Programme and a Saker Falcon Breeding Programme, where the aim is to breed Saker falcons that will be released back into the wild as part of the late Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme.
ADFH needs the support of the community to win this award. You can show your support by visiting www.worldtravelawards.com and following a few easy steps to vote for the hospital. The last date to cast your vote is April 4, 2013.