Destination Dubai

Dubai

Ranked among the top four of the world’s most visited cities, Dubai is a powerhouse for tourism of all types, with its portfolio being in a constant state of evolution. Tatiana Tsierkezou writes.

Alive and kicking 24/7, Dubai is a fascinating city. With its ever-changing portfolio and its never-ending list of attractions, it is a tourist’s paradise. In this city of towering skyscrapers, there is quite literally something for everyone, ranging from traditional adventures to modern escapades.

With business travellers originally making up the majority of visitor numbers in years gone by, due to the city’s impeccable MICE offering, Dubai has managed to transform itself into an extraordinary leisure hub, with its immense shopping malls, exciting excursions and experiences to be had, unsurpassed glitz and glam, and of course, its brand-new portfolio of thrilling theme parks.

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Commenting on this was senior vice president, operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India, Swiss-Belhotel International, Laurent Voivenel: “Dubai is among the top four most visited cities in the world and the best performer in the MENA region. There are multiple reasons that make Dubai a rising giant in the global hospitality industry. The opening of attractions such as the Dubai Opera, City Walk, IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world’s largest indoor theme park, Dubai Water Canal and Dubai Parks and Resorts, the region’s largest integrated theme park resort, have all further added to Dubai’s appeal as well as contributed to the steep rise in leisure tourism.”

And as a jack of all trades and master of all, the city’s tourism movers and shakers are doing all they can to promote its vast offering, ranging from roadshows in key markets, participating in vital travel trade shows, renovations and revitalising projects, and adopting brand-new initiatives to boost visitor numbers.

One extremely important entity, Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), recently introduced a new online training tool, ‘Dubai Expert’, for travel agents in 12 languages and 40 countries.

Explaining this new concept was CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), Issam Kazim: “Dubai Expert was developed to assist the international travel trade in keeping up-to-date with all the destination updates in Dubai and ensure that all travel agents and tour operators have a sound knowledge of the emirate that they are trying to promote.”

Kazim explained that Dubai Expert also represents part of DCTCM’s continued investment in new technology and facilities that could assist with boosting tourist arrivals in line with Dubai’s strategic goal of welcoming 20 million visitors a year by 2020.

THERE’S ALWAYS MORE!

It comes as no surprise that investors are eager to focus their efforts on Dubai, as it holds immense potential. So what new and exciting additions has this magnificent city got to look forward to?

Granting TTG some insight on this exact question was Voivenel: “We have more landmark projects coming up such as Dubai Safari Park, the Dubai Eye and the 1.8 million metre square Dubai Harbour project.”

Catering to the leisure segment, Dubai Safari will be the perfect option for those wishing to feast their eyes on and get up close to beautiful wildlife. It will further reinforce the emirate’s appeal as a family hotspot.

General manager, Desert Palm Dubai, James Reeves declared: “We have witnessed the growth of entertainment in the city with the opening of IMG World of Adventure, Dubai Parks and Resorts and the imminent opening of Dubai Safari, which is located directly opposite the hotel. Following Dubai Safari’s opening, the area itself will be greatly impacted by increased footfall and better awareness of the surrounding location of the hotel. We particularly look forward to welcoming more families into the area and we are on track to increase our inventory to accommodate more guests.”

Meanwhile, developed by Meraas Holding, the Dubai Harbour project will comprise of a 1,400-berth marina, a cruise ship port and terminal equipped to welcome 6,000 passengers, a shopping mall, an events arena, luxurious residential buildings, hotels, offices, retail stores, public services, restaurants and cafes, and the ‘Dubai Lighthouse’. The project will be located in Mina Seyahi, between Jumeirah Beach Residence and Palm Jumeirah, off King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street.

The glittering city will also be embracing the 1.8km Dubai Creek Marsa Al Seef project, which has been designed as a culturally rich, yet modern and vibrant retail, hospitality and entertainment attraction along Dubai Creek.

“[The project will embrace and celebrate] the UAE’s proud maritime traditions,” explained general manager, Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa, Habib Khan.

“Marsa Al Seef will realise new memories of Dubai, embracing the past through experiences deeply rooted in Emirati culture and heritage, while also revitalising the tourism experience around Dubai Creek, one of the UAE’s most famous and best-loved locations,” he exclusively told TTG.

The Dubai Creek Marsa Al Seef project is anticipated to dramatically boost demand for the Dubai Creek area, and according to Khan, as an established and well-known hotel in the vicinity, the project will help Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa prosper further.

Also remarking on the changes to some of Dubai’s lesser known areas was general manager, Copthorne Hotel Dubai, Glenn Nobbs: “The Dubai Government is revamping the Dubai Creek area, Al Shindagha and Bur Dubai, and eventually the area closer to the hotel to make it more ‘heritage’ orientated, which I believe is the right move. This will add value to the Deira area and give tourists more of a reason to stay in this end of the city instead of in ‘new Dubai’. Deira already has so much to offer and is so close to many attractions. The upgrades will certainly enhance its appeal.”

EMIRATE WITH A CONSCIENCE

With all of these game-changing developments in the pipeline, one cannot help but think about the strain this will put on the surrounding environment, as well as the gargantuan water and fuel consumption. But it seems that Dubai does indeed have a ‘green’ conscience, and tourism players are pulling out all the stops to lessen their carbon footprint.

According to chief operating officer, Al Bustan Centre & Residence, Moussa El Hayek, the property has been strongly focusing on its energy conservation projects and water-saving initiatives.

“We have installed motion sensors to control the light circuit, which reduces CO2 emissions, while another initiative taken up is using LED replacements for the entire hotel premises. This will help to reduce our overall carbon footprint and will make our property more sustainable in the long run,” he told TTG.

Also passionate about preserving the environment, Nobbs of Copthorne Hotel Dubai explained that care of the environment is of vital importance to the property and its team.

“We have earned the certification of ISO1401 for environmental management and this November we are due for re-certification. Our company has all the hotels in our group measure our consumption monthly, so we can monitor and measure our use of not only power and water, but also fuel, LPG and other consumables. This we do in comparison of our occupancy and F&B covers. Without measurement, you cannot see the gains you make in reducing your environmental impact.”

Other initiatives Copthorne Hotel Dubai has adopted include LED bulbs; aerators on taps; recycling segregation points for room attendants; and the sourcing of reputable companies whenever there are expired assets to be disposed of.

Meanwhile, marking a first in the Middle East and North Africa, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates is the very first five-star LEED Certified hotel in the region and the inaugural Kempinski hotel in the world to be Green Globe certified.

Taking TTG through the hotel’s eco-conscious initiatives was general manager, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Slim Zaiane: “A sustainable business is one that is profitable and good for the community, with minimum impact on the environment. We’ve implemented numerous measures to reduce energy consumption, such as the installation of Building Management Systems and Room Management Systems that help us monitor and control energy expenditure, and the use of motion sensor lights, timer lights and 90 per cent LED lighting across the hotel. In 2016, we recycled 98 per cent more waste than in 2015.”

Zaiane explained that the property’s water consumption has reduced to 318 litres per guest night through the implementation of aerators in all rooms, which have cut water consumption through taps and showerheads by half.

“We have also developed a steam recovery programme to recycle used water in laundry operations and we use sprinkler systems for landscaping to ensure the minimum amount of water is used,” he concluded.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Dubai, the Middle Eastern tourism genius, will continue to prosper and entice travellers with its irresistible charm, while also gaining further respect for its eco-friendly approach to hospitality.