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Dubai leads tourism surge in United Arab Emirates

Dubai leads tourism surge in United Arab Emirates JW Marriott Marquis Dubai will become the tallest hotel in the emirate

Dubai has been considered among the premium tourist destinations in the Middle East for over a decade. Now, with new airlift, hotels and attractions on offer, the emirate is cementing its place among the leading tourism markets around the world.

Many of these organisations will be showcasing their latest products at the Arabian Travel Market which kicks off on April 30th in Dubai. Meanwhile professionals from the hospitality sector will be getting down to business at the Arabian Hotel Investment Forum which begins today.

Those tourism professionals who have gone a step further with their innovations and expertise will be honoured at the World Travel Awards  Middle East Ceremony on April 30th.

There is much to discuss, as officials at the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) recently outlined the local tourism industry’s continuous and impressive performance, thereby consolidating the position of Dubai on the world tourism map.

Khalid a bin Sulayem, DTCM director general, said: “The stellar performance of Dubai’s tourism industry is a testimony to the aggressive promotional and marketing drive the department has been pursuing to enhance the number of tourists to the destination by tapping established and emerging markets across the world.

“The impressive gains made during the January-September period last year (2011) reflect the inspiring public-private sector partnership to tap the tourism potential of Dubai.”

Dubai hotels played host to a total of 6.64 million guests in the first three quarters of 2011, up by 11 per cent compared with the corresponding period in 2010.

Guest nights rose by 26 per cent over the period to reach 23.9 million, while the average length of stay increased by 14 per cent. Revenue at hotels in the emirate also increased by 19 per cent to AED10.96 billion.

The number of hotel establishments increased by one per cent to 573.

With new airlift coming on stream, hotels opening and new events being added to the already impressive events calendar, it is little wonder Dubai has bounced back this year.

Hotel Boom

Despite some shaky moments in the last two years, hoteliers in Dubai have been rediscovering their optimism of late. Some 13,200 new rooms are presently under construction in the emirate, with suppliers confident demand will be sufficient to make new properties viable.

The emirate is developing a reputation as something of a safe haven in a region rocked by insecurity, with Al Habtoor Group unveiling the $1.33 billion mega project - Habtoor Palace - earlier this year.

Opening in 2015 and comprising three luxury hotels with a total of 1,612 rooms, the development will add to a number of new hotels opening along the Sheikh Zayed Road.

In the same area, the JW Marriott Marquis will become the tallest hotel in the emirate when it opens later this year, with the first of the 1,614 rooms scheduled to receive guests in the fourth quarter.

“The hotel will fill a long identified gap in the market where groups, meetings and conventions of up to 1,000 people can meet, sleep and dine under one roof, in one location,” explained Rupprecht Queitsch, general manager of the hotel.

“There are businesses of this size choosing various cities around the world in which to meet, but until now, Dubai has not had a single location of this size to accommodate this type of group. In simple terms, we will establish Dubai on the global conference market landscape.”

Emirates Drives Dubai’s Success

One of the key drivers in the success of Dubai as a tourism destination has been the development of airline Emirates – recognised as the offering the Middle East’s Leading Airline Economy Class by the World Travel Awards – which has allowed guests from around the world ease of access.

Among the many recent developments at the carrier was confirmation of an improved service to Amsterdam, with an Airbus A380 to fly the route from August 1st this year.

“To upgrade an A380 in a relatively short space of time demonstrates the strong demand from travellers to fly with Emirates and experience our superior products and services,” said Salem Obaidalla, Emirates’ senior vice president, commercial operations, Europe & Russian Federation.
Cruising in Dubai

In late 2011, the Dubai Department of Tourism (DTCM) organised a celebration in honour of the maiden calls of the Costa Favalosa and Aida Blu cruise ships at the Dubai Cruise Terminal. Both vessels are presently offering week-long itineraries in the region with Dubai as the home port.

The ceremony, at the largest and best-equipped cruise tourism facility in the Middle East, was a milestone in the development of the sector in Dubai. Hamad bin Mejren, executive director for business tourism at DTCM, said: “It has been over a decade since DTCM began to promote cruise tourism to Dubai.

“Our continued efforts in conjunction with our 18 overseas representative offices and the opening of the first state-of-the-art cruise terminal in Dubai in 2001 began to draw the attention of the cruise lines around the world when we received 17 ship calls and 6,900 passengers in the first year.

“In collaboration with its partners, DP World, we will build additional cruise terminal facilities to cater to the anticipated growth of the business. We forecast 150 ship calls a year, with a passenger turnaround of more than 600,000 passengers by 2015,” he added.

In May 2011, Dubai Cruise Terminal was voted Middle East’s Leading Cruise Port for the fourth consecutive year at the World Travel Awards.

World Travel Awards

Dubai is set to host the World Travel Awards in April, with the industry leading event headed for Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa on Monday. The event will mark the fifth year in succession WTA has hosted its Middle East Gala Ceremony in the emirate, underlining its sustained significance to the regional tourism sector.

World Travel Awards founder Graham Cooke explained the selection of hosts is fundamental to the success of the world’s most influential travel awards programme. He said: “I am delighted that we will be retuning to Dubai for what promises to be the most exciting and competitive Middle East Gala Ceremony yet.

“The emirate is a hotbed of fresh ideas being put into practice, as exemplified by our host, Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa. The resort has remained the market leader for families throughout its illustrious 30-year history by continually reinventing itself and staying ahead of the curve.”

Over 400 industry leaders from across the region are expected in town.