In the desert lies an Oasis of discovery and intrigue. That Dubai has developed into one of the world’s most sought-after destinations for tourists is a tribute both to the man who had the vision to transform Dubai, but also to those responsible for building the city in such a short space of time.
Tourism has become an important part of the Dubai government’s strategy to maintain the flow of foreign cash into the emirate. Dubai’s lure for tourists is based mainly on shopping, but also on its possession of other ancient and modern attractions. All of which is a far cry from the humble fishing village that existed barely three decades ago!
So what can one make of the rapid expansion programme that has been perfectly complimented with a vigorous marketing campaign? Well tourism itself has become one of the major sources of income for the emirate, while the setting regularly attracts businesses from around the world which encourages investment in the area.
During 2011 Dubai saw the opening of several new hotels including the Ritz Carlton, located in the financial district and boasting a 10 story waterfall, the Movenpick, which became the first 5 star hotel built in downtown Dubai in over a decade, the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray which is Ottoman Empire-themed and the Radisson Blu Downtown which will target business travellers. In total an additional 9,500 rooms were created during 2011, meaning there are currently 71,000 rooms available.
Last year also saw a media relations team for the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing create a webinar for travel media, to give an update about the state of tourism in Dubai at this time – and the news was exceptionally good, reflecting that Dubai tourism is stronger than ever with over 8.5 million visitors in the preceding twelve months. There was also an increase in hotel capacity which remained at an average of 70 per cent.
Most visitors to Dubai stay for an average of three nights, although North Americans stay longer. The location has become a popular stopover point with Emirates airlines, as the route is the fastest way to get to the Far East, while cruising is a tourist sector currently experiencing growth. In 2010 cruise trips hosted 390,000 passengers and that figure is expected to increase to 625,000 by 2015. Dubai
cruise terminal can currently host up to 7,000 passengers and three ships at one time, and is the only terminal in the world operated by a government’s Department of Tourism.
Perhaps one of the organisations that has done most to promote Dubai has been Emirates Airlines, named Airline of the Year for 2011 by Air Transport World. The airline has increased the number of flights from the United States to the emirate in recent times, including the November 2010 launch of an A380 superjumbo service which operates daily routes from JFK in New York straight to Dubai.
Emirates Airlines have also launched second daily flights from both Houston and Los Angeles, adding a further 15,000 seats per week and 98 non-stops per week between Dubai and four US airports.
Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) was established in January 1997, replacing the Dubai Commerce and Tourism Promotion Board (DCTPB) that was itself set up in 1989. DTCM’s broad objectives are to increase the awareness of Dubai to global audiences and to attract tourists and inward investment into the emirate. It is empowered with the responsibility of organising the marketing of tourism and commerce for Dubai.
Today, DTCM is the principal authority for the planning, supervision and development of the tourism sector in Dubai. As such, the department is responsible for the licensing and classification of hotels, hotel apartments, tour operators, travel agents and all other tourism services. DTCM’s supervisory role covers archaeological and heritage sites and to ensure sustainable and responsible tourism for
Dubai. It is also committed to training programmes for personnel from the tourism industry to ensure that Dubai’s tourism industry continues its world-class development with world-class people involved at all levels.
DTCM’s remit of course is to promote Dubai as a tourist destination but equally to help stimulate the region’s economy. Tourism directly impacts accommodation, recreation, catering, entertainment and transportation but equally influences other industries such as printing & publishing, manufacturing, resort development, services, food & beverage just to quote a few. The significance of inbound tourism on the emirate of Dubai has been seen and felt not just in the region, but also globally.
The initiatives DTCM has undertaken have had a local knock-on effect in other ways too: UAE nationals now look to tourism and hospitality as viable career choices that simply would not have existed 35 years ago.
DTCM has launched the job-linked MAHARAT training programme through its Emiratisation Task Force for Tourism (ETFT) and in association with the National Human Resources Development and Employment Authority (TANMIA).
The programme aims to encourage Emirati job-seekers to join the ever-expanding hotel and leisure industry by raising awareness of the opportunities available to nationals. A measure of the success of ETFT comes from the statistics: in 2002 just 15 UAE nationals worked in hotels – a number that has soared to in excess of 300.
In July DTC launched its latest tourist promotion, a 107-day initiative themed ‘Dubai, my destination this summer’. The ‘Enjoy more in Dubai’ drive, running from June 15 to September 30 is aimed at boosting external tourism, promoting the main recreational activities in Dubai during the summer months, attracting more tourists from all Gulf, Arab and foreign countries, and providing large discounts on hotel rates, restaurants and entertainment venues.
According to a senior official, the initiative, along with other planned activities in this month, will increase the capacity of the hotels and furnished apartments here during the Holy month of Ramadan. Iyad Abdel-Rahman, Executive Director of Media Relations and Business Development at the Department, said the project will see the participation of 77 hotels, resorts and furnished apartments which provide their customers with large discounts on recreation and leisure activities.
“The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in Dubai has printed 40,000 copies of two complimentary voucher booklets which include discounts ranging between 10 and 50 per cent in more than 80 shops and restaurants.” The high quality booklets contain all the valuable information and facts tourists need to best enjoy their visit to Dubai, have more fun and, above and beyond, will promote the emirate as due. “The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in Dubai, in collaboration with Emirates Airlines, is offering large discounts to Dubai visitors during the period,” he added. Such promotion is set to further boost a bullish tourism economy in Dubai, an emirate where the sky seems to be the limit.