The world has its eyes on Dubai

Bin Sulayem

WITH the world’s eyes firmly on the Dubai, the growth engine of the region’s tourism business, TTN took the opportunity to quiz Khalid A bin Sulayem, director general of the emirate’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing on emerging new markets and on the road ahead. Excerpts:

What are the tourist arrival figures into Dubai for 2007? What are your 2008 targets?
In the first half of 2007, Dubai hotels registered a 7.5 per cent increase in tourist arrivals,  which numbered 3.4 million. However, we expect these will reach 6.7 million hotel visitors to Dubai by the end of 2007. For 2008 we expect about seven million visitors. 

What are the new emerging source markets for Dubai?
The top source markets for Dubai are the UK, Saudi Arabia, India, Iran, the USA, Russia and Germany.

Dubai is now investing heavily abroad, as brands like Jumeirah go international. Is this going to bring in more tourists to Dubai?
Definitely yes, Jumeirah’s global reach will eventually increase the number of visitors to Dubai and will always support the DTCM’s long-term strategy of attracting a larger number of visitors to Dubai. DTCM has successfully developed the Dubai brand and many organizations are involved in value-addition or benefiting from it through giving it further momentum.

What is being done to develop infrastructure to meet this global demand?
Massive investments have been placed in building infrastructure to meet the demands of residents, visitors, investors and businessmen. New hotels are being built as Dubai gets increasing number of visitors from every part of the world. Dubai Metro, Dubai Sports City and Dubailand are few of the projects that are going to grace the skyline in the coming years.

Are there plans for more tourist offices?
Our 15 overseas representative offices have been generating a lot of interest in Dubai, but yes, we are always studying new markets and whenever we hit on a new destination we start thinking about setting up representative offices there.

Dubai is increasingly seen as an expensive destination, even with budget hotels opening. How is DTCM working to change that?
The law governing this factor is based on the economics of demand and supply. Dubai is a open city and the demand, at time times, being very high say up to 80 per cent to 90 per cent hotel occupancy, the prices do go up but then they come down with the supply as more hotels are adding to the Dubai skyline every now and then.

What is the DTCM’s plan for the year 2008?
The Dubai Strategic Plan 2015 has expressed ambition of Dubai receiving 15 million visitors by 2010 from its current total of 6.04 million visitors in 2006. Thanks to the co-operation of the private sector, the department is working towards attracting more and more business and leisure tourists to Dubai in the coming years.
In order to sustain the success of the last decade we have to consolidate our performance by tapping new emerging markets as the hotel industry is coming up fast. By 2008, there will be additional 16,000 rooms available in new hotels. Presently, Dubai has 423 hotels and hotel apartments with 40,862 rooms and apartments.