Number of tourists in Dubai set to grow by 40 per cent - Emirates24|7

Number of tourists in Dubai set to grow by 40 per cent

Dubai will experience more than 40 per cent growth in tourist numbers over the next three years compared to a global average of single-digits, said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman, Dubai City of Aviation Corporation-Dubai World Central.

"While the travel and tourism industry accounts for about 10 per cent of global GDP, Dubai's tourism aspirations represents 30 per cent of the UAE's GDP," Sheikh Ahmed said. Dubai hosted seven million tourists in 2007, with projections for 10 million by 2010 and 15 million by 2015.

"Currently there are 47,000 hotel rooms in Dubai with plans to triple that to 141,000 rooms by 2015," Sheikh Ahmed said.

"This represents a massive number of hotels to be constructed in the next seven years and this is where Dubai World Central steps in – to be a catalyst to that construction boom in the hotel industry which will eventually be a home for tourists."

DWC, the 140-square-kilometre city taking shape in Dubai, will provide an impetus to the Middle East's ambitious efforts in attracting an international tourist audience, he said.

"The Middle East is experiencing higher growth rates than the world average and the region needs to be geared for further growth in coming years. DWC is providing a real estate platform for hospitality and leisure operators to construct their properties in new Dubai which will be home to Al Maktoum International Airport, set to be the world's largest international airport."

DWC Golf City, DWC Commercial City, DWC Residential City, Dubai Logistics City and DWC Aviation City comprise DWC components.

Khalid bin Harib, CEO, DWC Real Estate, said: "DWC will build 35-50 hotels by 2015 which will include every leisure and entertainment aspect. Many investors have reserved a number of plots and construction of the first hotels will commence this year. We expect to have 10 hospitality properties in the next three years."


Call for airspace expansion

At a special session during the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths told CNN's John Defterios that to complete the growth in hotels and tourism infrastructure, there was a pressing need to increase airspace capacity across the Gulf.

"We will have the accommodation on the ground but what we must address is the very real challenge of airspace capacity," he said. "This means unlocking current 'no fly' zones around the GCC which potentially pose a fundamental barrier to growth."

Griffiths acknowledged it was not an issue that countries could solve independently and called for intra-regional co-operation. He stated that if this was not addressed it could prove a significant problem for Dubai and the region as a whole.

About the launch of Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport, Griffiths declined to give a confirmed opening date, saying a "big bang" was the worse possible scenario in terms of opening a complex operation such as an airport.

"Bangkok, Hong Kong, Heathrow Terminal 5 all suffered problems in this respect," he said. "Terminal 3 will open when it is ready."

Griffiths also said that over-capacity in the Gulf region was a possibility.