Dubai tourism charge faces challenge


Tourism made up 14 per cent of Bahrain's GDP, 15 per cent of the UAE's non-oil income and only 0.5 per cent of Qatar's GDP in 1999.

But times are changing. Dubai still leads the charge, but Bahrain is making its move and Qatar is taking steps to build tourism, says a report in "Business Middle East".

Based on visa applications, Dubai welcomed 3.3 million tourists last year and its aim is to have six million tourists by 2006 and 15 million by 2010.

From March 1999 to the same period last year, the number of hotel rooms and apartments for short-term tourist rentals in the UAE grew 14 per cent, says Arthur Andersen Hospitality Consulting in the report.

But Bahrain hopes to reign supreme as the region's tourism centre. Bahrain welcomed three million visitors in 1999, 3.3 million last year and forecasts 8 per cent growth a year for the next five years.

Bahrain also plans to add to its list of 85 hotels and resorts, and 17 hotel apartment blocks.