Destination Dubai

Whirring with positivity the microcosm that is Dubai continues to thrill leisure visitors from the region and beyond. Natalie Hami reports.

Nothing but fast-paced and over-achieving in all that it sets out to create, Dubai continues to impress both residents and visitors with a tourism product that is growing and evolving.

Dubai’s ongoing efforts to position itself as a top leisure and business hub have resulted in growing visitor numbers to the emirate, as well as higher rankings on global traveller and meeting indexes. MasterCard recently announced that Dubai has risen to fourth position out of 132 top destinations for international travellers in the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, behind London, Paris and Bangkok. A one-place rise since 2014 figures, Dubai has jumped from the eighth position in 2012 and MasterCard predicts that the emirate will welcome almost 14.3 million international visitors in 2015. Meanwhile, figures released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) in May of this year showed that the emirate welcomed 13.2 international overnight visitors in 2014.

Travel Forward 20

To put it very simply ‘Dubai has become progressively more accessible (geographically and economically) and its diverse tourism attractions suit every taste and budget offering first class hospitality, amenities and infrastructure’ according to manager – business development and marketing, Lama & CarFare Groups, Mamatha Pradhan.

Destination director, strategy and operation, The Vision Destination Management, Anwar Abu Monassar shared with TTG what drives Dubai’s leisure popularity. “From the dynamic Dubai Marina with Dubai Eye, to the new exciting projects of Palm Jumeirah in terms of leisure attractions, residential, hotels and restaurants till the area of Downtown with the Opera House, Dubai is working to include more attractions within its offer.”

He added: “Amusement parks and the new safari zoo on the city’s outskirts are due to be completed shortly and will be combined with the unique atmosphere of the desert, that remains the experience most sought after by all international guests.”

Amusement parks are certainly at the top of Dubai’s leisure growth agenda at the moment with Dubai Parks and Resorts’ plans to open motiongate Dubai – the Hollywoodthemed park scheduled for October 2016. Other theme parks under Dubai Parks and Resorts are Bollywood Parks Dubai and LEGOLAND Dubai (2016); IMG Worlds of Adventure (2016); and Warner Bros. (2018).

Pradhan of Lama & CarFare Groups shared with TTG a number of other projects underway including Bluewaters Island, Dubai Creek Harbor, Dubai Water Canal, Aladdin City and Al Mamzar projects.

According to hotel manager, Ibis Styles Dubai Jumeira, Muhammad Mujtaba Haider, Dubai still is and always will be one of the top appealing leisure destinations because of its well-planned infrastructure, as well as its safe and secure environment for tourists and expatriates

STRATEGIC LOCATION

And while DTCM and various other tourism stakeholders work to diligently keep up the momentum for this buzzing emirate, Dubai’s many and varied hotels are also seeking to benefit from its ever growing leisure segment.

Many of Dubai’s properties are either ideally situated, in close proximity to some of the emirate’s most iconic attractions, or offer sought after experiences within the property.

General manager, Arjaan by Rotana – Dubai, Mark McCarthy explained that the property’s proximity to key leisure areas makes it an ideal choice for the leisure traveller.

“The Dubai Tram station is just a few steps away from our hotel entrance which will connect you to JBR beach front, Dubai Marina Mall. We are also a few minutes from The Palm and Madinat Jumeirah, which happens to be located next to one of the biggest water parks in the city.”

He further noted that Arjaan by Rotana – Dubai offers tourists optional activities which they can book through the hotel, such as the Dhow Cruise at Dubai Marina.

“Those booking online through our Escape Package are also able to enjoy complimentary tickets to KidZania,” McCarthy explained to TTG.

Another property which is capitalising on its prime position on The Walk JBR is Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham. The property’s general manager, Wael El Behi told TTG: “Apart from the new theme parks and resorts, near us we have the Blue Water Island project shaping up as well as the Dubai World Central city building which is only 20 minutes’ drive from the JBR district.”

Boasting full views of the Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountain, Ramada Downtown Dubai is a mere 10-minute walk from The Dubai Mall, according to general manager, Samir Arora. “[The Dubai Mall] has the Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Ice Rink, Kidzania and Dubai Dino. There is also the latest attraction in Downtown Dubai, which is the Dubai Trolley, which is surely another part of the bucket list for Dubai visitors.”

Ramada Downtown Dubai also offers strategic access to ‘old Dubai’ comprised of the heritage village along with historical sites.

Moving on, Rixos The Palm Dubai, in partnership with Water Adventure Dubai, is appealing to the more daring visitor with a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience The Seabreacher, a two-seater, fully-submersible watercraft that is modelled on the shape of man’s most feared predator – the shark.

And with the ability to tend to the tastes of the different types of leisure visitors that grace this colourful and positive emirate, Dubai also makes sure that it gratifies the needs of the discerning luxury traveller.

According to area general manager, Gulf Region, The Ascott Limited, Vincent Miccolis, guests staying at any of their serviced residences worldwide will enjoy a myriad of bespoke experiences offered through its Ascott Lifestyle programme including Ascott Park Place Dubai.

“The specially handpicked experiences, ranging from cultural to gastronomical, local delights to wellness, will enable guests to explore the cities they are living in and continue to enjoy the activities they are familiar with while being away from home.”

Meanwhile, Dusit Thani Dubai has partnered with two prestigious companies, Level Shoe District in Dubai Mall and the Miraj Islamic Art centre located in Jumeirah, to provide a bespoke experience to its in-house guests by providing them with exclusive privileges.

“Luxury after all, is all about providing exclusivity and personalised experience,” said director of sales and marketing, Dusit Thani Dubai, Julia Alvaro.

An impressive addition to the Dubai skyline, general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate Dubai, Robert Barker shared the luxury property’s appeal to the elite traveller.

“Mövenpick Hotel Ibn Battuta Gate can offer the MENA region and the international leisure traveller a hotel characterised as a home away from home; with its unique themed design combining genuine five-star service, quality, reliability and care with a personal touch.”

He added: “The hotel is conveniently located adjacent to Ibn Battuta Mall, within walking distance from the Ibn Battuta Metro Station and just a short drive from Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai Marina and the beaches of The Palm Jumeirah. The hotel provides complimentary shuttle transfers for guests on the weekends to Mall of the Emirates and The Dubai Mall.”

CALCULATED SUCCESS

While Dubai’s tourism stakeholders continue to bolster the emirate’s leisure offering, brick by brick, they understand the equally important task of exploring new markets, such as China and India, as well as retaining their repeat market, the GCC.

Miccolis of The Ascott Limited told TTG that despite the major focus being on repeat markets such as the GCC, on a global level Ascott is focusing on China, as one of the leading emerging markets.

“Ascott Park Place Dubai has seen a 285 per cent growth year-on-year from Chinese travellers in terms of room nights.”

He also explained that in-line with Ascott’s global focus on technology and the Chinese market, Capitaland through Ascott is leading a consortium to invest $50 million in Tujia.com, China’s largest and fastest growing online apartment sharing platform, which has been dubbed the Chinese equivalent to US home-rental website, Airbnb.

Agreeing with Miccolis on the significance of the ever growing Chinese market was group director marketing and brand development, City Seasons Hotels, Elise SarkisTalj, who shared with TTG that this emerging market has contributed to two of the company’s properties in the UAE.

“We know that the emergence of Chinese travellers goes slowly but surely so we expect a similar influx into Dubai in the coming year.”

Meanwhile, Musafir.com has its eye on the Indian market. Managing director, Musafir.com, Sachin Gadoya told TTG: “We recently announced an exciting new partnership with Dubai Tourism to promote tourism between Dubai and India.”

Complex general manager, Le Meridien Dubai Hotel and Conference Centre, Le Meridien Fairways, Shaun Parsons also commented that the properties will be bolstering its relationship with the Indian market, among others, especially with the links being created by Emirates Airline.

“Our primary objective would be to continue to focus on our feeder markets which would be the US, UK, Germany, Italy and France. However, we will also be concentrating on the emerging markets such as India, China and Latin America, predominately Brazil and Argentina, as we have seen an increase in guests from these markets, primarily due the introduction of new destinations by Emirates Airline which has been instrumental in the growth of the tourism sector in Dubai.”

Never failing to disappoint its fans, Dubai is well on its way to keeping up the leisure momentum with a host of offerings still to come.