Tourism sector poised for further growth

Tourism sector poised for further growth

DUBAI — The tourism sector in UAE and Dubai has bright prospects and their future growth seems to lie in exploiting the increased flow of tourists from Asian countries.

A recently released analysis by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry indicated longer-term prospects for Dubai and UAE’s tourism sector as highlighted by Business Monitor International’s (BMI), UAE Tourism Report for fourth quarter of 2010.

“The expenditure on UAE’s tourism sector is expected to increase gradually, while tourist arrivals and total number of overnight stays are also expected to increase from 2010 on,” the report said.

According to the report, UAE hotels may expect demand for rooms to increase as the number of tourists is expected to increase. An important aspect of UAE tourism is that the visitors from the Gulf region and the Middle East. A strong oil price has been one of the key drivers of growth of tourism from this region. Once again although different scenarios could play out, it is forecast that the price of oil could rise in the future. This could increase disposable income for Middle-Eastern households, which may increase tourism to Dubai and the UAE even further.

The analysis pointed out that Dubai’s strategic location means a significant niche-market which when maintained will result in sustained comparative advantage.

Indeed this is the time to realize and build on this advantage. Dubai is a tourist hub and can benefit from increased tourism flows from, for example, China and India to Africa and even to Europe.

“Future growth seems to lie in exploiting the increased flow of tourists from Asian countries, as their citizens become more affluent,” the analysis said. Coordinated action between the private sector and the government is needed to formulate a strategy based on principles of efficiency and competitiveness. Clear objectives for the sector and quality standards are essential for the long-term competitiveness of Dubai’s tourism sector. Visas and other government facilities can attract more visitors from target countries and target groups.

The analysis stressed that the government can also help further by supporting infrastructure in the tourism sector, such as telecommunication, emergency assistance (medical, fire-fighting) and also sanitary facilities. Other efforts can also include linking Dubai’s tourism to the region, with Dubai being the primary gate to visit and enjoy the Middle East, Africa and Asia. This will provide Dubai with first-mover advantage and embed Dubai in a regional tourism network.

The private sector can also help by increasing cooperation between tourism related entities such as hotels and restaurants, thereby adding value to their services and increasing the overall competitiveness and efficiency of the tourism sector.

These steps could make the Dubai tourism sector more robust and propel it into the next phase of growth.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the global tourism sector is expected to grow by two per cent in 2010 beating initial estimates of a growth rate of 0.5 per cent and creating 946,000 jobs worldwide. Consequently, the global tourism sector is expected to further grow by 2.7 per cent in 2011.

(KHALEEJ TIMES)