Tourism chief says Dubai will focus on remaking older destinations to offer new vibes
In its updated tourism strategy, Dubai will focus as much on revitalizing its legacy destinations – such as Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi, and Souq areas – as it does building new attractions.
“There’s much more we can do in a wider context – there’s Al Serkal Avenue and Al Qouz,” said Issam Kazim, CEO, of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism.
“There’s so much happening in these neighborhoods (that) we need to draw people’s attention to. Either we sit back and wait for the demand (for such types of offerings) to ignite again or update these areas and create a new surge of energy in these spaces.
“There are so many new attractions that we are seeing travelers staying in Dubai for up to two weeks now,” said Kazim. Currently, multiple streams of expansion are happening for Dubai’s next-level tourism ambitions. The city itself will go through the ‘Urban 2040 masterplan’, and then there is the D33 Economic Agenda program. The target for year-end is to match, or surpass, the 2019 tourism numbers of 16.73 million.
“We have successful models we’ve seen with many different districts within the city,” said Kazim. “We share that information regularly with partners and show them exactly what the tourists want. We’re not sitting in isolation.
“Even the investments in La Mer and Al Seef, for example, are aligned with exactly the behaviors, patterns, and surveys we regularly conduct with the tourists coming in.” La Mer in Jumeirah is undergoing renovation and will be flattened to make way for J1 Beach
La Mer in Jumeirah is undergoing renovation and will be flattened to make way for J1 Beach. While Kazim did not provide a forecast on how much additional capacity Dubai’s hospitality sector can accommodate, he did say the emirate is focused on investing in all segments – luxury, ultra-luxury, and mid-market hospitality. “Our strategy is we don’t get to a stage where one outstrips the other in a big way,” the CEO said. “We are at the comfortable stage where we can say demand is outstripping supply.”
The average daily rate (ADR), a benchmark used to measure hotel sector performance, is at Dh607 compared to Dh649 this time last year. It was Dh498 in 2019. “This is a good place to be in. We have about 814 hotels, of which say roughly over 150 are in the five-star category, showing that a major chunk sits within four stars and below range.”
Unified GCC tourist visa
A key topic of discussion at the recently concluded Arabian Travel Market was to launch a unified ‘Schengen-style’ tourist visa for the GCC. The Bahraini Minister of Tourism Fatima Al Sairafi said during a panel discussion that talks are underway at a ministerial level among Gulf countries on how one could achieve this.
A unified Schengen-style GCC visa could bring positive attention to the region as a whole, says Issam Kazim
Kazim said, “I think that will bring positive attention to the region as a whole.”
For instance, source markets like Australia, South America, and specific American markets might see Dubai as a destination too small on the map. “Once they see that the region has a great offering and a good product mix, that might attract them to the destination,” he added. Then it’s up to us to ensure that they see enough of Dubai to create that magnetism for them to return repeatedly.”