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Dubai Shopping Festival 2012 attracting record numbers

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Dubai’s hotel sector has been boosted by the Arab Spring, renewed corporate activity and record numbers of visitors to the Dubai Shopping Festival. The thriving Dubai hotel sector will receive a further boost from this year’s 17th Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which is expected to attract record numbers of visitors.

Dubai, Dubai, UAE, Country., January 31, 2012 – (PressReleasePoint) – Dubai’s hotel sector has been boosted by the Arab Spring, renewed corporate activity and record numbers of visitors to the Dubai Shopping Festival. The thriving Dubai hotel sector will receive a further boost from this year’s 17th Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), which is expected to attract record numbers of visitors. Last year, around 3.5 million tourists flocked to Dubai for the festival, which generated $4.08 billion in revenue for the city. But a study by You.Gov predicts this year could be considerably bigger. The DSF, which runs for 32 days from January 20, 2011 to February 20, 2011 has been organised to coincide with school holidays, which will increase the number of families at the event.

Special offers for the Festival
One of the biggest beneficiaries will be the Dubai hotel sector. Hotels, travel agents and tour operators sell the DSF worldwide and run at peak levels during the event. Most Dubai hotels and apartments, including the world-famous Burj Al Arab, provide special offers on rooms during the festival. Emirates, and most other airlines flying out of Dubai, offer discounted airfares and excess baggage allowances during the festival. Emirates, for example, is offering a US$75 DSF hotel package.

The DSF, known in Arabic as ‘Layali Dubai’, was started in February 1996 by the Dubai Government as a retail event aimed at promoting trade. Since then it has become an annual shopping, entertainment, and cultural extravaganza that draws an international audience. It is basically a shoppers’ paradise. Over 2,300 retails outlets offer everything from gold and perfume, to haute couture, cars, electronics, handicrafts and textiles.

But over the years, other events have sprung up to take advantage of the thousands of visitors. There are now international fashion shows, street-side performances, nightly fireworks, film festivals, and many other cultural events that reflect the emirate’s cosmopolitan character. The world’s richest horse race, the US$ 12 million Dubai World Cup, also coincides with the shopping festival.

First Central Hotel Apartment’s
If last year is anything to go by, hotel occupancy rates will soar during the DSF. In 2011, many hotels in the emirate reached 100% occupancy. Hotels which are well-situated for the festival will be especially in demand. One example is the Dubai-based British property developer The First Group’s First Central Hotel Apartments, which are right by the Dubai Metro’s Tecom station, and offer the height of luxury to tired shopaholics. The apartments are just a few minutes away from the Mall of the Emirates and a short ride from the Dubai Mall.

In fact, Dubai’s hoteliers have already reported occupancy levels up this January compared with January 2011. The rising trade has certainly been helped by the Arab Spring diverting tourists to the emirate, as their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries find Dubai to be a natural substitute for places like Egypt and Morocco. But there are other factors which have helped hotel business, including consistently good weather and the general improvement in corporate activity in recent months. The emirate’s relative affordability compared with its pre-crisis peaks has also played a role. As has its increasing appeal to markets such as China, India and eastern European tourists.

Rises in 2011
The positive news in the early stages of 2012 continues trends in the Dubai hotel industry in 2011. STR Global reported that visitor levels had risen beyond eight million by the end of last year. Also, the revenue per available room, or RevPAR, recorded an average rise of 8-9% in 2011. During the month of October, Dubai’s hotels posted a 13.5% increase in RevPAR to $194.05, second only to Jeddah in the Middle East and Africa region (MENA).The majority of hotels in Dubai also recorded occupancy levels as high as 85% for the month of October. Clearly, events such as the DSF will build on these impressive figures.

Dubai is now the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world, worth about $7.8 billion in 2011. And the UAE has the largest number of hotel rooms, with a total of 40,176 available, or being built. The nearest contender in the MENA region was Saudi Arabia with 5,531 rooms. The increasing activity in the hotel sector is making property developers confident about their new investments. After years of insecurity, the market looks back on track with 2012 set to be another year of growth. New developments, such as The First Group’s Tecom hotel apartments, Metro Central and Grand Central, will add to the city’s diverse hotel supply.

Other Dubai developers have made bullish assertions about the market. Seven Tides, for example, claims it will be looking for new opportunities as the market improves. Seven Tides believes that interest in Dubai properties is rising back to pre-crisis levels and that there is particular interest in the Palm. This means mixed-use developments are becoming sought after once again. Seven Tides expects to open its Royal Amwaj resort on the Palm Jumeirah, and its Oceana hotel, also on the island, in the first quarter of next year. Other developers have been inspired by the upturn to restart work on projects which had been put on hold. For example, Al Habtoor is restarting work on its US$272.2 million hotel on the Palm.

Strong economic performance
The renewed vigour in the UAE’s hotel and tourism industries is reflected by the stronger performance of the UAE economy on international indexes. For instance, in the 2011 Human Development Report, an annual survey put out by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UAE was ranked number 30 worldwide among 187 nations. Countries ranking depends on their performance on three variable of the human development index (HDI) – life expectancy at birth, education and income.

The ranking of 30th was ahead of all Arab countries and many European countries. The second-placed Arab country was Qatar, which came 37th. The UAE economy also had a great year in 2011. According to a report by Standard Chartered Bank, the UAE enjoyed economic growth of 3.8%, allowing for inflation. The reasons cited for the growth were steady oil prices, strengthened oil production and the spillover effects of the Arab Spring. Inflation is also a non-existent threat, standing at around 1.6 per cent in 2011 and predicted to rise slightly to 2 per cent in 2012.

The First Group is an award winning international property developer, specialising in emerging markets and is currently pioneering iconic projects in the UAE and Africa. The group has a proud history of over 20 years’ experience and success, and continues to produce and develop bespoke property investments in some of the world’s most desirable locations.

For more information, please contact:
Cain Masters
Citrus Designs

Press Contact:
Cain Masters
Citrus Designs
1 Main Street, Malaga, Spain, 29649
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