Business | Tourism

Dubai ponders strategy to retain place as top tourism destination

Dubai, the Arabian Gulf's leading tourist destination, is set to announce a strategy in the coming two weeks to ensure that the global economic crisis does not deprive it of its fair share of visitors.

  • Bloomberg
  • Published: 23:35 November 24, 2008
  • Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai, the Arabian Gulf's leading tourist destination, is set to announce a strategy in the coming two weeks to ensure that the global economic crisis does not deprive it of its fair share of visitors.

"We are gathering information, looking at trends around the world of travel and tourism, and having daily meetings," Khalid Ahmad Bin Sulayem, director general of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commercial Marketing, told reporters on Monday.

Dubai may revise its target of attracting 15 million tourists a year by 2015 "depending on the feedback we get", Bin Sulayem said.

Hotel rates take beating

There have been concerns that tourists arrivals will slow as consumers trim spending amid the global credit crises and as oil prices plummet.

Dubai has emerged as the Middle East's premier tourist, financial and commercial destination, benefiting from an inflow of petrodollars and investments from international institutions eager to tap Gulf wealth after a six-year oil-price boom.

Dubai's 37,000 hotel rooms and a further 20,000 rooms in hotel-apartments are enjoying occupancy rates of between 80 per cent and 90 per cent, Bin Sulayem said.

About 42 per cent of available hotel rooms in Dubai come under the five-star category. The new strategy to attract tourists to the emirate will include special marketing initiatives aimed at Chinese, Russian, Saudi Arabian and British guests, Bin Sulayem said. "We will go through this positively," he said.

Good package

"The government has good links with the private sector; we have a good package of products in Dubai, from the airline [industry] to infrastructure and services," Bin Sulayem said

Fewer tourists have the potential to stall the emirate's growth. Tourism accounts for a 19 per cent direct and 30 per cent indirect contribution to Dubai's gross domestic product, Bin Sulayem had said in April.

Growth in the UAE. may slow to about 4 per cent as the financial crisis damps global expansion, Central Bank Governor Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi said last week. On August 28, Al Suwaidi had predicted the economy would expand 6.6 per cent in 2008 and "stay strong through 2009" if oil prices remained above $60 a barrel.

The price of oil has plunged more than 60 per cent from its July peak, to $51 a barrel today, as slowing global growth damps demand for the fuel.

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