2014 will be even greater for UAE Tourism


Tourism in the United Arab Emirates is growing stronger and the next year it is expected to flourish due to the sustained growth and the general positive image of Dubai. 2013 was a year of new hotel openings and stronger occupancy and visitor rates, according to official numbers.

The UAE has turned into a one of the most popular travel destinations – for leisure, MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions), and VFR tourism (visiting friends and relatives). In 2013, many major hotels opened in Dubai – the Oberoi, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Conrad Dubai, Novotel Al Barsha, and many others. By 2015, there will be another 35 hotels in the city, according to the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. The other emirates are getting popular, too – Abu Dhabi is expected to attract more visitors with the opening of Yas Waterworld in 2014, Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2015 and Zayed National Museum in 2016. Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah are turning into centers of the national and regional heritage and culture and Sharjah is already known as a religious destination.

According to official statistics, in the first nine months of 2013, the number of Dubai visitors increased 9.8% from the same period in 2012, reaching more than 7.9 million. Hotels also registered larger revenues – 17.1% higher than in 2012, or around 15.33 billion. Occupancy rates on the other hand, also saw a great year – more than 80% in the high season. It is expected to remain just as high in 2014, according to Peter Goddard, Managing Director of TRI Hospitality Consulting. Although rates will be lower, because of the greater supply, they will still be around 78-80%.

2014 will see sustained growth in tourism numbers for Dubai, a trend continuing from 2013, but also boosted by the winning of World Expo 2020 bid. Helal Al Merri, Director-general of DTCM, explains that if Dubai wants to double the number of visitors by 2020, then the number of hotels needs to be doubled, too. By 2020, around 20 million people will be visiting the city every year, according to the 2020 vision. The growth of the sector will inevitably impact the economy, too. But Dubai tourism will have to grow by around 9% every year for this to happen. It is starting with opening new hotels – the Waldorf Astoria, Marriott Hotel al Jaddaf, Sofitel Dubai Downtown, Pullman Hotel in Jumeirah Lakes Towers are some of the largest to launch in 2014. Another major step to achieving growth in the sector is the 10% municipality fee for new 3- and 4-star hotels, which won’t be required to pay for four years after getting building permit.

Among other awards and prestigious titles, Dubai was named “The World’s Leading Travel Destination” at this year’s World Travel Awards. The city also boasts with the top new hotel in the world, as well as with the top world’s airline.


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