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Dubai must complete its attractions to lure tourists.

Byline: Aya Lowe

Dubai Authorities in Dubai must focus on completing the development of the emirate's entertainment facilities to attract more tourists, Frederic Bardin, senior vice-president of Arabian Adventures, has said.

Arabian Adventures is the region's largest destination management company and part of the Emirates Group.

After suffering a drop in tourist numbers in the past year, Dubai is slowly reviving and becoming more prominent as a tourist destination.

According to research carried out by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), annual travel and tourism revenues in the region will increase by 89 per cent over the next 10 years to $279 billion (Dh1 trillion) in 2016.

However, Frederic said the future of Dubai's tourism market hinged a lot on the completion of leisure developments in Dubai.

"It is a superb idea to develop a major concentration of various theme parks because then you can attract people from all walks of life from the neighbouring region..." he said, as he paid reference to Dubailand, whose development has been partly put on hold.

"It has the potential to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors a year through its attractions like Universal Studios," he said.

The original master plan of Dubai, which consisted of 45 mega projects and 200 sub-projects, included a variety of theme parks, planetariums, sports academies, a large variety of shopping and retail outlets and a number of hotels and resorts.

Theme park collection

Dubailand aims to have the largest collection of theme parks in the world, pushing Walt Disney World Resort into second place.

Theme parks planned included Warner Brother Movie World, Legoland Dubai, Six Flags Dubailand, Dreamworks Studios Theme Park, Universal Studios, F1-X Theme Park, Marvel Superheroes theme park, Aviation World, Islamic Culture and Science World to name a few.

Work on a number of Dubailand theme parks, such as Al Barari, City of Arabia, Falcon City of Wonders is progressing fast while Global Village is already up and running.

Upon completion, these projects will push Dubai to the forefront as a tourist destination in the region, Bardin said.

"The long-term strategy of Dubai, including all its theme parks, could attract people away from other theme park destinations like Florida which is six time zones away from Europe, Asia, and [the] Mena region," Bardin said.

"Millions of people go to Florida every year just to visit the theme parks. Those [people] could be diverted to Dubai."

Bardin said a concentration of theme parks would succeed in attracting the masses.

"We will never have 30 or 40 million in a beach resort u you can't gather that number of tourists in one place except in a theme park."

Bardin says Dubai's accessibility was one of its main selling points as a tourist destination. There are currently 130 airlines flying into Dubai from over 200 destinations.

Josef Kleindienst, chief executive officer of the Kleindienst Group, said the constant flow of traffic in and out of Dubai should be taken advantage of.

"A lot of people pass through Dubai on connecting flights. We should concentrate on convincing them to lengthen their stopovers," he told Gulf News recently.

The country's geographical position also works to Dubai's advantage. Close to Europe and the Mena region, the UAE has the advantage of having its own regional market. It's advanced infrastructure is also able to attract the wider international market.

"Why would Europeans choose to fly over several time zones when they can fly to a very good climate [with] superb infrastructure and plenty of hotels?" Bardin said.

"We are considered a city break along with Paris, London, Brussels, Rome and New York. New York is one of the few cities tourists would fly out of Europe to visit for a couple of days. Now Dubai is included in that list."

With the new cultural offerings, the natural islands and desert landscape of Abu Dhabi, the retail, amusement and food attractions of Dubai and heritage attractions in the other emirates, the UAE should promote itself as a multi-destination holiday says Bardin.

Holiday homes

Kleindienst believes that in order to attract a steady, more permanent flow of tourists, areas need to be dedicated to holiday homes.

"Most European cities only have a five- or six-month season. Dubai is able to offer a full year of sun which means people can get a lot more out of their holidays homes," he said.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 17, 2010
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