Dubai’s tourism authority has called for the support of the UK trade to help achieve its ambitious target of 20 million international visitors by 2020.
The country, the host of this year’s Aito Agents Overseas Conference held this weekend, has already enjoyed a boom in arrivals in recent years.
Visitor numbers have soared from just one million in 1993 to five million in 2005 and up to ten million last year. UK visitor numbers for 2012 reached 685,000.
But to double total international visitor numbers within the next eight years will be a “challenge” and requires the help of tour operator and travel agent partners in its source markets, according to the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the emirate’s tourism promotion body.
The UK is the third-largest international market to Dubai after Saudi Arabia and India. Although the UK is unlikely to produce the same growth levels as other less mature source markets, it remains a critical market. The majority of UK bookings come via the trade.
Saleh Mohammed Al Geziri, director of overseas promotions and inward missions at DTCM, told the Aito Agents Overseas Conference: “Dubai is now the eighth most visited city in the world. A couple of weeks ago we got the go ahead to reach over 20 million visitors by 2020. It will be a challenge but is achievable – but only with partnerships with you [the trade].”
Part of Dubai’s growth strategy includes becoming a leading destination for family holidays as well as business travel and increasing repeat visitor numbers.
Dubai is viewed as an expensive destination but in fact offers accommodation from budget youth hostels up to the world's only seven-star hotel, Al Geziri said. “There is some truth [to Dubai being expensive] but there are a lot more budget hotels that people do not know about.”
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