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DUBAI: The Ever-Changing City (Part 2)

Like many Middle Eastern governments, Dubai is committed to moving away from its reliance on oil revenues and has named tourism as central pillar of economic growth and diversification.

In order to achieve this, DTCM has identified key strategic objectives to maximise the development of the industry, one of which is increasing the number of repeat visits.

Highlighting that repeat travellers sustain the hospitality and tourism industry in Dubai, Sam Bahl, director, sales and marketing, M Hotel Downtown by Millennium, explained, “Dubai has abundant and varied options for every facet of tourism. It is very dynamic and caters to all tastes.

In the future, the options available to any tourist are only going to increase, hence the probability for their return soars too.”

In actuality, demonstrated by the fact that key feeder markets have been stable in the last couple of years, El Behi revealed that a good portion of rooms nights are from repeat guests that visit two or three times each year.

He expanded, “The main reason for repeat travellers is definitely emotional.

When you fall in love with a destination, you would love to visit more and more.”

Aside from an emotional attachment, visitors choose to take another trip to the evolving metropolis as one is not enough to tick off all the top attractions.

As Ulrich Hoffmeister, general manager, Jumeira Rotana, explained, “Travellers are encouraged to return, simply because hardly anyone can claim to have seen it all.”

Almost unrecognisable from its humble beginnings, the emirate has defined itself as a sprawling metropolis synonymous with expeditious growth. Samer Rafie, hotel manager, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham JBR, said, “To encourage repeat visitors, the emirate is constantly coming up with new attractions, including theme parks, landmarks, museums and more.

” Rafir listed Dubai Parks and Resort, Dubai Opera, Dubai Canal, and Etihad Museum as key attractions that have recently opened.

“Dubai offers numerous reasons for guests to visit and there is always something new coming up which means no two trips will be the same,” enthused Deere. “A guest who has visited previously will still find reasons to come back and experience a different itinerary,” added Deere.

WORLD-CLASS EVENTS

Alongside the ongoing development of new experiences, DTCM has identified events as a key travel incentive.

Eli Jawich, director, sales and marketing, AVANI Deira Dubai Hotel, expounded, “[Every year], DTCM proposes a rich calendar of events all across the city and special attractions unique in the region, which [greatly] help in attracting repeat visitors.”

Depicting La Perle by Dragone, the emirate’s latest addition, as an out of this world production, Frida Audi, director, business development, Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection, remarked, “Extensive initiatives have driven arts and entertainment to Dubai, which ideally will have a great impact on the tourism market, thus leading to repeat visitors.”

Along with attracting arrivals, Dubai’s selection of shopping events encourages high levels of spending through promotional offers, therefore providing a boost to the economy.

Jawich underlined that value of shopping festivals such as Dubai Summer Surprises, which play an important role in enticing tourists back for another trip.

Dubai also has a distinct advantage as leading business destination. Harnisch illustrated that a corporate traveller who visits to conduct business is inclined to return to the city to explore its leisure offering with family and friends.

THE GATEWAY TO THE WORLD

While events and attractions are undoubtedly vital in luring back travellers, the infrastructure to accommodate them has to be in place.

Mentioning that Dubai was the world’s fourth most visited city in 2016, Pascal Gauvin, chief operating officer, India, Middle East, Africa, InterContinental Hotels Group, said, “[...] By streamlining visa requirements, infrastructure development, and investment into destination marketing, [the government is] enabling repeat visits from neighbouring countries in the Middle East and South Asia.”

As a visitors’ first and last impression of the emirate, Dubai’s two airports are essential elements of its tourism industry, linking the city with 280 destinations worldwide.

Lorne Riley, director, corporate communications, Dubai Airports, stated, “[...] We work closely with DTCM to find ways to showcase Dubai in our airports for both arrive passengers as they enter the emirate and connecting passengers as they pass through our facility. For the latter, we endeavour to showcase Dubai so on their next trip, they are enticed to stop over or to visit the city.”

Riley added that Dubai Airports continues to concentrate on enhancing customer service. Along with boosting capacity, at Dubai International, passengers can enjoy musicDXB and artDXB, which consists of live music concerts and creative displays.

“Aviation has proved to be an indispensable catalyst for the growth of Dubai’s tourism industry, both through the connectivity it provides and through the opening up of new markets and opportunities for people to visit Dubai,” enthused Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, divisional senior vice president, commercial operations centre, Emirates.

Thanks to the emirate’s geographical location and Emirates’ connectivity to 157 destinations on six continents, Dubai is a renowned transit destination.

Agreeing that Dubai is a favoured stopover hotspot that connects the world, Vanessa Chinopoulou, director, marketing and communications, Pullman Dubai Creek City Centre, added that more steps need to be taken to capitalise these trends and incorporate them to promote and sustain repeat visits.