Dubai has the ingredients to become a world sporting capital and attract a new breed of leisure travellers in search of active holidays, said Alistair Gosling, CEO of Extreme Group.
Gosling is to be in Dubai for this year’s Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), which runs April 28 to 30. He stressed how the tourism industry must constantly come up with new ideas to attract today’s leisure traveller, who perceives that he has ‘been there, done that.’
According to Gosling an increasing number of travellers the world over are looking for ‘active holidays’. “Scenic locations, sun and sand are no longer the only magnets for today’s holiday makers,” he warned. “Many are looking for a sense of thrill, they want activity, and they are demanding a new experience.”
Gosling said the excitement of indulging in known or new sporting activities while on vacation feeds these desires. “We believe that it is time for Dubai to push the limits in sporting vacations, just as it has done with other key sectors! Already the emirate has plans to host major sports events and has set its sights on becoming an international sports destination. We believe these elements – and more – will attract huge interest from sports travellers and sports hospitality investors, if properly marketed.”
Dubai is already home to such big-booty events such as the Dubai Desert Classic, the Dubai World Cup and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. With the development of such mega projects as Dubai Sports City, the emirate is already being talked about as a possible venue for events like the Olympics or the Asian Games.
Gosling said that current figures suggest that there are 165 million extreme sports participants worldwide: “Extreme sports are one of the fastest growing market sectors in both the sports and leisure arenas.”
Extreme Group has tapped this market and has developed the ‘Extreme Hotel’, in Cape Town, South Africa, in concert with hotel investment and asset management firm Istithmar Hotels and African operator Protea Hotels.
“We have set out to transform what is presently on offer in the hotel industry and our ‘Extreme Hotel’ is something new, exciting and fresh in an affordable, high-value, entertaining, active, cutting-edge package, located in the world’s finest extreme sports and urban destinations. Dubai could do the same.”
Extreme Group was started in 1995 by Al Gosling, founder of the Extreme Sports Channel and is a collection of businesses, with a shared brand and shared values.
Aged 24, passionate about extreme sports and unable to find a job that interested him, Al set up Extreme.
Today, Extreme delivers a range of branded lifestyle products and services including, Extreme Entertainment (TV), Extreme Stores, Extremepie.com, Extreme Mobile (an MVNO mobile phone network), Extreme Drinks, Extreme Hotels, Ex Parks (sports based theme parks), Ex Space (restaurants) and more, employing 247 people and operating in more than 70 countries around the world.
“Extreme ensures an environment that is extraordinarily social, a real laugh and hopefully strikes a chord with travellers who are young at heart and that crave style, fun and the extreme,” said Gosling.
Jonathan Worsley, AHIC’s co-organiser said, “AHIC is all about encouraging debate and spotlighting new segments, and the extreme sports concept is sure to provoke interest. Dubai not only has sand, sea but it even has snow! It is up to the industry to be creative and use these attractions to their advantage, thus ensuring that Dubai remains a leading tourism destination.”
Other topics for discussion at AHIC include opportunities in emerging markets; global investment and regional trends, anomalies of Middle East management contracts; presentation on selected mega projects and the future of independent luxury lifestyle hotels in a consolidating environment to name but a few.
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