Dubai builds, tourists come

Dubai builds, tourists come Muaz Shabandri / 22 August 2013 Saudi Arabia and India topped the charts for sending the most tourists to Dubai in the first half of this year as a new report by Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) revealed record-breaking figures. More than 5.5 million tourists visited Dubai from January to June this year, representing an increase of 11.1 per cent over the previous year. Director-General of DTCM Helal Saeed Almarri said: “The figures for the first half of 2013 are extremely encouraging and indicate that we are on the way to achieving our Tourism Vision for 2020.” Visitors from UK, USA, Russia, Germany, Kuwait and Oman also made it to the list of top 10 nationalities visiting Dubai for tourism. “Saudi Arabia, China and India are markets which DTCM has put significant focus on, as we believe they provide substantial opportunities for growth. DTCM has conducted a number of roadshows, participated in a range of events and operated specific campaigns in these markets to ensure that Dubai is positioned as a destination of choice,” added Almarri. With more than 710,000 guests coming from Saudi alone, hotel occupancy is expected to increase even further as the Eid festive season will be accounted for. “Our strategy is to position Dubai as a foremost destination for both leisure and business travellers by continuously evolving our broad and diverse tourism offering, and attracting visitors from a range of source markets, including targeting a new generation of first-time travellers from emerging markets,” he said. Hotel room occupancy averaged 84.6 per cent over the six-month period, up 2.8 per cent from 81.8 per cent in the first half of 2012, while the occupancy rate for hotel apartments was 85.8 per cent, up 6.5 per cent from 79.3 per cent in H1 2012. A total of 16 new hotels opened their doors this year, with new hotel openings including the JW Marriott Marquis, Oberoi Hotel Dubai, and JA Ocean View Hotel, all of which broaden Dubai’s hotel offering. The average length of stay for tourists was 3.89 days. In 2012, the UAE gained $10.4bn from tourism revenue. Dubai’s Tourism Vision for 2020 sets out how the city expects to double its annual visitor numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million in 2020. The city’s success in attracting more tourists has been attributed to the development of world-class facilities, with Dubai International Airport recording the second highest traffic in the world. Major concerts and world-level sporting events have also played a big part in bringing new visitors to Dubai. In terms of events, Dubai hosted some of the world’s top acts in the including Justin Bieber’s first concert in the Middle East, Cirque du Soleil and the all-star line-up of Amr Diab, Shamma Hamdan and Hussain Al Jassmi as part of the du world Music Festival. Events such as the Dubai Shopping Festival, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Dubai World Cup, and Summer Is Dubai, including Dubai Summer Surprises, have all contributed towards the growth in visitor numbers. Revenues for hoteliers and hotel apartment operators saw significant growth — with total first half revenues reaching Dh11.62billion ($3.18bn) up by 18.6 per cent. Area Director of Sales & Marketing at Kempinski Nasser Fawzi, confirmed the positive trends as he said: “We have seen a good occupancy increase this year over last year. We are around the 79 to 80 per cent which is approximately 5 per cent increase over last year.” Dubai’s status as the region’s leading Meetings Incentives Conferences and Events (MICE) hub has also played a central role in boosting first half visitor numbers. “Dubai and UAE in general have seen an increase of business and one of the reasons is the diversion of business from Egypt. However, we all know that the business segment of 5-star hotels in Egypt is not exactly the same in Dubai. Hence, the overflow goes mainly to 4-star or lower categories, which positively effect the 5-star categories. Additionally, many companies are shifting their meetings from Egypt to UAE which results in an increase,” said Nasser. Major business events held during the first six months of 2013 include Arab Health, Gulfood, GITEX Shopper, Arabian Travel Market, and Intersec. –   Taylor Scott International

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