The number of hotel guests in Dubai reached a record of 4,980,228 in 2003, five per cent up on the previous year despite the war in Iraq, a release from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said.
After massive growth in 2002 with 4,756,280 guests over 3,626,625 in 2001, department director general Khalid bin Sulayem said, 'The modest year-on-year growth assumes greater importance as this has been achieved despite the negative developments like the Iraq War and the SARS scare playing havoc with the global tourism industry.'
The number of guests from the US jumped by 32 per cent to 136,934, a statement said, while Europeans totalled 1,294,885, eight per cent up on 2002. Figures for Gulf nationals were stable at 1,025,383 million.
Dubai boasts 275 hotels – 33 of them five-star properties – as well as 96 hotel apartments with nearly 7,500 flats. The city’s tourist sector is a key plank in ambitious plans to attract 15 million visitors by 2010 and 40 million by 2015.
Dubai has nearly 100 hotels under construction with existing properties reporting very high occupancy rates through this year. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Defence Minister of the UAE and Crown Prince of Dubai, the driving force behind the massive development of the emirate, unveiled last October a $5 billion plus project to build Dubailand – a regional equivalent to Disneyland but, reportedly, it will be twice as big as the Florida icon.
Among the numerous mega projects rising from the Gulf sands are two colossal man-made islands in the shape of palm trees; a 200-island development themed into an atlas of the globe; Dubai Marina – a $10-billion city to house 100,000 people; a $1.6 billion- Dubai Festival City and a $2.5 billion airport expansion.
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