Dubai To Become The Third Most Popular Tourist Destination In 2017

Dubai is all set to become world’s third most popular tourist destination by 2017 replacing Paris which is currently ranked third behind Bangkok (2nd) and London (1st). At present, Dubai is ranked fourth in terms of most popular tourist destination globally receiving 13.2 Million visitors in 2014 and anticipating 14.5 Million visitors by the end of 2015.

Considering the average growth rate in tourist inflow (approximately 10%) for last three years, Dubai is estimated to leapfrog Paris by 300,000 more tourists in 2017. The total number of tourists expected to visit Dubai will be approximately 17.6 Million by 2017 leaving Dubai just behind Bangkok and London, which are expected to receive 20.5 Million and 20.8 Million visitors respectively.

Among the Top 5 cities, Dubai is the fastest growing in terms of international tourists as indicated below in the Graph. This Growth Rate will be pushed further in the year 2020, when Dubai plans to welcome 20 Million visitors in anticipation of the Expo 2020, which may allow Dubai to surpass Bangkok even.

Success Factors – Increase in Tourist Numbers

Dubai’s accomplishments in the last decade have been nothing short of appreciation as it surpassed vastly popular cities like New York and Singapore city to emerge in the Top 5 rankings. There are several factors contributing to the continuous development of Dubai as an ideal tourist destination:

Economic Development in Dubai

One of the prime factors for Dubai’s emergence as a tourist destination could be attributed to the continuous economic development that the Emirate has witnessed in the last decade. In 2014, Dubai’s GDP per Capita Growth Rate was 4.5% while that of the entire country was 1.6%, making Dubai the fastest growing metropolitan area worldwide in relation to its national economy (2014 Global Metro Monitor).

Dubai Connects East with West

Another factor contributing to the massive popularity of Dubai is its geographic location; making Dubai world’s third biggest Global Leading Hub in terms of International Connectivity, increasing its score by 58% from last year, based on the weekly non-stop flight frequencies to international destinations (Global Destination Cities Index 2015).

Evolving Tourism Infrastructure – Dubai

Dubai Government’s commitment to turn Dubai into an ideal tourist destination remains unparalleled. Recently, the Government licensed 37 operators in the hospitality market, allowing them to rent out properties as holiday homes. The move will allow more tourists to visit Dubai and provide tourist with more cost-effective options hence allowing Dubai to attract more tourists.

Current Stock of Hotels in Dubai

According to Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) Dubai houses 612 hotels with 85,000 rooms providing tourists with lot of options to select from  5, 4 and 3 star hotels. By the end of 2016, Dubai will have additional 140 hotels with 30,000 rooms which will further make hospitality sector competitive.

Upcoming Tourist Attractions – Dubai

Several Mega-Projects have been planned in anticipation of Expo 2020 and the resulting increase in tourism. In line with Dubai’s tradition of excellence and its history of developing the biggest and the best of everything, Dubai is rapidly working on projects such as:

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World’s biggest Ferris Wheel (Blue Waters Island) – Construction work is rolling out in full swing for the AED 6 (USD 1.63) billion Blue Water Islands, which will have the tallest ferris wheel in the world called Dubai Eye besides Souq, 5 star hotel and various residential and retail units. Green signal has also been given to an AED 500 (USD 136) million bridge which will connect Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) with the island. Once complete the Blue Water Island is expected to attract over 3 million visitors.

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Dubai Canal Project – The construction work has commenced on Dubai Water Canal Project that was unveiled in October 2013. The Water Canal project is estimated at AED 2 billion and it involves construction of massive 16 lane flyover on Sheikh Zayed Road, under which the canal will flow in phase one along with construction of six lane bridge the second phase which involves constructing of six lane bridges above the canal on Jumeirah and Al Wasl. The overall project which will be completed by 2017 will have numerous luxury housing, 4 hotels, 450 restaurants and retail space associated with it.

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District One, Mohammad Bin Rashid District – Works is on in the AED 30 (USD 8.2) billion Mohammed Bin Rashid City, which is expected to be finished by 2018. One of the major announcement done for the project was unveiling the District One Project, which will involve 14 KM long manmade beaches, 1500 luxury villas along with various sports, retail and leisure attractions. Overall, the Mohammad Bin Rashid District will have over 100 hotels, World’s largest shopping mall, film studio and a amusement park, besides large number of retail/residential units.

Dubai Safari Park – The AED 150 (USD 40.8) million worth ambitious project will be spread across an area of 120 hectares and will include a zoo, that will have Arabian, Asian, African and Safari Village apart from botanical garden, educational and veterinary facilities, resort and a golf course. Located on the opposite side of the famous Dragon Mart in International City, it was initially planned in order to shift the existing zoo, which is based in Jumeirah.

Impact of Tourism Projects on Dubai Economy

Bigger integrated tourism projects demonstrate Dubai’s ambitions of achieving growth and influence, through a sustainable and diversified route. These projects are part of Dubai’s long term strategy of achieving economic excellence and vibrancy through the help of large scale tourism projects, which will not only ensure large tourist inflow but also invigorate the booming retail, real estate and construction industry in the emirate.

In addition, such larger than life projects should also add tremendous brand value to the image of the Dubai, in front of the international communities of investors, businesses, entrepreneurs and think tanks, thereby attracting them towards itself in big volume.

Author: RKonnect
The author is the Managing Director of Research Konnection, a Dubai based market research and consulting firm that helps local and international companies to identify emerging business opportunities and successfully expand in the Gulf region. The author can be reached at
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