Dubai is constantly climbing the tourism ranks as it miraculously continues to outdo itself with show-stopping, incalculable developments. Aleksandra Wood discovers how the city is able to sustain so much power yet maintain constant evolution.
The fourth most visited city in the world, Dubai has reached an all-time peak as a top player in the Middle East. High-rated tourism attractions, including the likes of awe-inspiring indoor and outdoor theme parks, skyscrapers and gargantuan shopping destinations, make this city an intense competitor in its craft.
CEO, Millennium Hotels and Resorts MEA, Kevork Deldelian spoke to TTG about the industry’s success this year: “According to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), the emirate welcomed over 8.36 million tourists in the first half of 2019 – a three per cent rise compared to the first half of 2018. This is a reflection of Dubai’s progress towards its objective to welcome 20 million visitors by 2020.”
The healthy percentage recorded in H1 of this year is a direct result of the city’s visa-on-arrival policy, which allows travellers spanning the globe the opportunity to access this tourism playground seamlessly and hassle-free.
Meanwhile Dubai Tourism’s seasonal campaigns, tactical programmes and city activations are reaping tangible benefits.
As a stellar tourism performer, Dubai has expertly relied on the ‘never-before-seen’ and the ‘extraordinary’ to bring bigger and better experiences to travellers, with even the most mundane elements of this city possessing commanding allure. Its attractions, such as the Burj Khalifa, IMG Worlds of Adventure, The Dubai Mall and The Palm Jumeirah – which have been coined worldwide phenomena – are now to be succeeded by a host of new options.
General manager, Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa, and CEO, hospitality division, Planet Group, Habib Khan revealed exclusively to TTG: “Dubai is coming up with amazing attractions and has lined up the most exciting tourism projects, namely Aladdin City, inspired by the very tale of Aladdin; Jewel of the Creek, a mixed-use tourism project; Deira Island; Dubai Creek Harbor; Bluewaters Island; The Pointe mall at Palm Jumeirah; and the ‘Al Marmoom Bedouin Experience’.”
With these gems due to join its itinerary in the foreseeable future, Dubai guarantees that visitors of all nationalities, ages and genres will be more than satiated.
Now, the city’s continuously thriving reputation on the global tourism scale has allowed it to infiltrate previously lesser explored markets this year. While India, Saudi Arabia, the UK and other neighbouring countries in the Middle East remain its key markets, notable growth in the Far Eastern, African and Australasian markets are set to further boost business year-round.
“Select Asian and African countries are the new markets to be further penetrated, even before the upcoming year arrives, as well as some of the countries in South America,” chief operating officer, Al Bustan Centre & Residence, Moussa El Hayek opined.
In agreement with this, CEO, JA Resorts & Hotels, Anthony Ross said: “We are seeing China continue to grow as a source market, reaching double digit growth in 2019. JA Resorts & Hotels is also focused on the potential from Africa, as the continent’s economies continue to register significant augmentation.”
And with the ground-breaking Expo 2020 just around the corner, founder and CEO, LEVA Hotels & Resorts, JS Anand predicts the event will present a great opportunity to capture a huge amount of corporate and leisure market segments from around the world, especially from participating countries.
“We are seeing a steady rise in reservations for the next few months at LEVA Hotel, Mazaya Centre and are very positive that we will close 2019 with strong bases in all market segments in our industry,” he elucidated.
PREPARING FOR 2020
Expo 2020 has certainly given hoteliers spanning Dubai and the rest of the UAE something to look forward to, as each hospitality entity endeavours to maximise its potential to capitalise on the remarkable surge in visitor arrivals that is anticipated.
Shedding light on the undeniable buzz around the event was founder and chairman, McArthur + Company, Phil McArthur: “The government and local developers are continuing to expand retail and entertainment destinations within the emirate [in the run up] to Expo 2020. As these projects open, tourists will have ample options to tour and visit in a safe and friendly environment.
“Expo 2020 is probably Dubai’s largest tourism motivated project ever. With 192 nations participating, it will increase annual tourism to well over 20 million visitors,” he noted.
El Hayek of Al Bustan Centre told TTG that while the hotel has fully equipped its staff and ameliorated its services and offerings for the event, it is also working on promoting sustainability practices – a decision that perfectly complements Expo 2020’s leading theme of sustainability throughout the travel industry.
“We are [also] focusing on coming up with competitive rates specifically for long-term stays, as guests will most likely extend their stay and vacation,” he added.
Arabian Adventures, Dubai’s leading organiser of desert safaris and sightseeing tours, is keeping the environment at the core of its strategy when curating its latest experiences for visitors. The company has been taking measured steps to maintain its sustainability practices since 2018 and will continue to do so in the lead up to Expo 2020.
“At Arabian Adventures, we are extremely excited about Expo 2020,” the company’s general manager, Samir Mehta remarked. “We are working closely with Expo 2020 to identify and promote a tailor-made proposition to our global leisure, incentive and cruise partners. We have simultaneously worked towards limiting waste and have reduced the amount of single-use plastic in our operation. In addition, we have saved a significant amount of water by recycling and purifying the water used for cleaning the fleet of vehicles.”
McArthur concluded that Expo will continue to inspire a ‘can-do’ attitude in the region and encourage developers to grow in line with the Government’s vision.
What better way to make one’s presence known at a crucial time of the year than with a sizable hospitality expansion? Affluent brands in the city are working to reinforce their presence in the city of skyscrapers, starting from Radisson Hotel Group, which is eagerly anticipating the inauguration of Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Canal View in Q4 of 2019, closely following last year’s opening of Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront.
The group’s cluster general manager, David Allan declared: “Clearly, we intend to play a major part in delivering the best of what Dubai can offer to tourists, while contributing to the economy and creating jobs. The simple fact that we have the confidence to continue our growth so aggressively demonstrates how we feel about the ongoing positivity surrounding tourism here.”
Also on the verge of its grand opening this month is Central Hotels’ fourth property in Dubai, the opulent C Central Resort – The Palm. Group general manager, Central Hotels, Ammar Kanaan enthused: “We are thrilled to continue growing the Central Hotels brand in Dubai with exceptional hotels in beautiful locations. The upcoming properties will reinforce our presence in the market while giving greater choice to our guests. With continued investment in technology and revenue driving platforms, all our hotels are performing well.”
Lastly, well on its way to becoming the leading hotel developer in the emirate, as well as the whole region, is none other than Millennium Hotels and Resorts. Deldelian explained that there are nine properties in the pipeline over the next two years, since the city is a crucial market for the brand.
“The hotel industry in Dubai has massive competition at the moment, especially with Expo 2020 around the corner. Our contribution to this competitive industry has been our three new brands: Studio M, Millennium Central and Millennium Place,” he concluded.
With arrival numbers expected to rise by an impressive 6.4 per cent during 2019, Dubai will remain a hugely inspirational destination, setting an example for not just the Middle East, but the world.