Dubai’s fast-expanding tourism industry has recorded significant gains as the hospitality sectorposted exceptional growth in the first half of 2004. According to recent figures released by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Dubai’s 372 hotels and hotels apartments played host to 2.6 million guests in the first six months of the year, compared to 2.4 million for the corresponding period last year, indicating an impressive 49.4 per cent growth in revenues. The hotel establishments’ total revenues for the first half of 2004 stood at Dhs. 3.076 billion, as against Dhs. 2.059 billion during the corresponding period in 2003. The outstanding performance by the hospitality and tourism industry is largely the result of DTCM’s aggressive and articulate marketing strategy especially in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) and the premium leisure travel categories. The hospitality industry welcomed 4.7 million visitors in 2002, a figure that grew to 4.9 million in 2003, despite negative political and economic developments in the region, such as the recent Iraq war.
“Dubai’s hospitality sector has shown exceptionally healthy growth in recent years, as the emirate makes its mark on the global tourist map,” said Khalid Ahmed bin Sulayem, Director General, DTCM. “The record growth of nearly 50 percent between January and June 2004 in the hotel industry is an indication that DTCM’s strategic plan of promoting Dubai as a year-round business and leisure destination is yielding results. We have been working closely with hotels to raise standards as well as with the overseas travel trade to attract new visitors to Dubai.”
“The record performance by the hotel industry is proof of the successful partnership between the public sector and the private sector that has helped boost tourism dramatically in Dubai. The current boom in the hospitality sector is in line with the impressive gains made during 2002 and 2003,” added bin Sulayem. Dubai earned laurels at the global level in 2002, when the World Tourism Organisation praised it for posting 31 percent growth in tourist arrivals - the world’s highest for the year.
In the first half of 2004, guest arrivals in Dubai rose by 9.4 percent, with bed occupancy growing by 30.6 percent. This increase is attributed to the fact that guest nights recorded an increase of 37.2 percent, reaching a high of 7.6 million, against 5.5 million during the corresponding period in 2003.
Room occupancy stood at 81.9 percent in the first half of 2004, as against 68.9 percent in the same period last year, an increase of 13 points. The total number of occupied hotel rooms rose to 21,300, representing a 22.5 percent increase. Bed occupancy reached 78.7 percent, against 62.8 percent registered in the first half of 2003.
In the case of hotel apartments, for the first six months of the year 2004, the total number of occupied apartments stood at 5,336, an increase of 2.4 percent. The rate of occupancy was exceptionally high at 73.4 percent, against 67.4 percent during the corresponding period last year.
Dubai’s profile as an upmarket tourism destination has grown considerably, with the addition of several iconic hotel projects such as the Burj Al Arab and the recently completed Madinat Jumeirah. DTCM reported a 3 percent increase in available hotel accommodation in the first half of 2004. Currently, the total number of available hotel rooms in Dubai stands at 26,012, while the number of available beds is 42,351, representing an increased capacity of 4.2 percent over the corresponding period last year.
Dubai is now investing heavily in mega projects and infrastructure developments to achieve the ambitious targets of growth. The number of hotels and resorts in Dubai is set to cross the 400-mark, with the completion of the Dubailand project (50 hotels), the Palm and the World (about 40 hotels each).