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18 July 2024

Welcome to Dubai: Why world wants to come

By Shuchita Kapur

Whether it’s lighting up the New Year’s Eve in ‘Dubai style’, achieving landmarks like building the world’s tallest tower, offering the world the largest shopping mall or even hosting an unparalleled 7-star hospitality, this city knows to do things like no other.

This is one of the primary reasons that has put Dubai on top of the global list of must-see destinations for tourists across the world.

In the past decade, under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the emirate has established itself firmly as the global hub in leisure and business tourism.

And the rankings vouch for this. According to data released recently by Kayak, a travel booking website, Dubai was the number 1 trending New Year’s Eve destination this last week.

The site ranked the cities based on the most popular in airfare searches for places to ring in 2016 and Dubai took the top slot beating all other popular cities. Popular destinations like Barcelona, Tokyo, Chicago and Vancouver trailed behind.

The MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index puts Dubai as one of the hotspots and it continues to climb the ranks as one of the top destinations for international travellers.

The MasterCard rankings reveal that Dubai has consistently advanced its position since the launch of the index, ranking eighth in 2012, seventh in 2013, fifth in 2014 and fourth last year. Within the MEA region, Dubai continued to retain its top rank for international overnight visitors.

These are just some of the rankings that prove the growing status of the city as a global tourist place.

According to statistics issued by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the city welcomed a total of 13.2 million international overnight visitors in 2014, representing a year-on-year increase of 8.2 per cent – this is significantly higher than the global average of 4.7 per cent.

The number of people coming to Dubai is apparent if the traffic at airports is seen. Despite an 80-day partial runway closure from May to July, 2014 saw Dubai International Airport emerge as the world’s busiest for international passengers, surpassing London Heathrow for the first time.

The airport welcomed 70.5 million passengers in 2014, an increase of 6.1 per cent, while overall seat capacity to Dubai increased 7.2 per cent year-on-year to 48.6 million.

The growth in aviation capacity supports the World Economic Forum’s assertion that “Dubai’s greatest competitive advantage in tourism is its ability to provide a world-class international hub for global air travellers.”

Dubai’s cruise industry, meanwhile, also contributed to growth thanks to the opening of Dubai’s third cruise terminal, and 425,000 passengers are expected to arrive on cruises into Dubai in 2015, a 30 per cent increase over the previous year.

The number of tourists’ visiting Dubai also went up due to easing of UAE visa policies that have made it easier and cheaper to visit the emirate.

Citizens from a total of 46 countries can now obtain a visa on arrival, boosted by the March 2014 addition of 13 EU member states to the existing 15 member states already eligible.

Positive results can already be seen in the increase in visitors from Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, for example, up by 104, 86 and 64 per cent, respectively.

This year, Dubai will have more to offer to tourists with four new attractions – Dubai Frame, the Dubai theme parks, IMG Worlds of Adventure and Dubai Safari.

The first two have been mentioned by international news dailies such as The Telegraph and Los Angeles Times as two destinations among global attractions.

Going forward, Dubai’s Tourism Vision for 2020 is a strategic roadmap with the key objective of attracting 20 million visitors per year by 2020, doubling the number welcomed in 2012.

The Vision was approved in May 2013 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and UAE Vice President and Prime Minister.

This strategy outlines what needs to be delivered for the city to effectively drive and serve this visitor growth with multiple initiatives covering regulatory policy, infrastructure development, product offering enhancement, and destination marketing investments.

The overall goal of these initiatives and the strategy is to position Dubai as the ‘first choice’ for the international leisure and business traveller.

To meet the set targets, Dubai is also busy marketing the city to a wider audience. The city recently rolled out destination marketing campaign to help travellers see Dubai as their holiday or business destination of choice.

In its first month, the campaign's brand video, titled The Spirit of Dubai, has already received over 10 million hits on YouTube.

“Dubai's range of attractions, experiences and events already holds great appeal for families from across all of our source markets, and with four major theme parks opening in Dubai, this is set to be significantly enhanced. Coming in the midst of our first ever global destination marketing campaign, which positions Dubai as a city of endless possibilities, we are here at WTM to show why families across the UK and Europe will recognise our emirate as the destination of choice for 2016,” said Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism, during World Travel Market (WTM), that took place in London recently.