Dubai looks East to source tourists

September 4, 2014 6:19 pm

Dubai will gradually attract the 20 million tourists it aims to accommodate by Expo 2020, says Alpha Tours general manager, Samir Hamadeh.

With the current figures showing that Dubai is attracting over 11 million visitors annually, the challenge to maintain growth will be to target tourists from new, emerging markets such as China and Southeast Asia, explains Hamadeh.

Speaking to AMEinfo, he points out that “the numbers of visitors from the UK or US are pretty much exhausted, we cannot expect a sudden increase from these markets. However, it will be up to major marketing campaigns from tourism authorities to penetrate Dubai’s appeal in the East, and this will really drive the industry forward.”

As such, in line with the increase of supply (attractions, hotels, leisure facilities), Hamadeh expects growth to continue at a gradual pace over the next few years. In recent months, experts have questioned what would become of Dubai’s booming construction and tourism industry after 2020, if many projects were purpose-built for the Expo.

However, Alpha Tours GM believes that there is no issue with oversupply because “tourist figures for 2020 will not be much higher than 2019. Yes, some will come specifically for the Expo, but by 2019, Dubai will already be nearing the 20m mark. This shows that growth will be natural and gradual, which suggests there should be no major issues once the Expo is over.”

Hamadeh also believes that increased focus on the tourism sector, which already contributes 8.5 per cent of the UAE’s GDP, will also diversify the type of visitors Dubai attracts. “Dubai will always be a hub for business tourists,” due to its capacity to accommodate conventions and conferences, as well as attract key industry personnel. “However, with a rise in supply and in order to continue expanding, we can also expect a increasing focus on budget tourism.”