Promotions and discounts in Dubai for cheap airfares, hotels and attractions are succeeding, with air traffic at Dubai International Airport rising 7 per cent last month. Dubai International, the world's sixth-busiest international airport, saw 3.21 million travellers last month, up from three million in May last year, Dubai Airports said yesterday.
With air traffic figures around the world seeing a decline brought on by the global recession, Dubai airport and its largest tenant, Emirates Airline, are bucking the trend, largely through offers of deep discounts to stimulate spending. Paul Griffiths, the chief executive of Dubai Airports, said: "The fact that we continue to record positive growth even during a time when international travel has been severely affected by the global economic situation is a testimony to the attraction that Dubai holds internationally for business and tourism."
The Dubai economy is largely based on trade and tourism, industries heavily affected by the economic crisis. Emirates and other carriers have had to lower fares by an average of 25 per cent over the past six months to stimulate demand, according to travel agents. The hotel industry has also begun offering deals, with many high-profile five-star resorts that had been able to charge premium rates just a year ago joining in.
Dubai's traffic figures were also bolstered by the addition of new connections launched within the past year by Emirates Airline, including flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles. In addition, five new carriers began flying this year to Dubai International, which already caters to more than 120 carriers from Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. A further boost came this month with the launch of flydubai, the UAE's newest start-up, which focuses on the budget segment, with services to Damascus, Alexandria, Beirut and Amman.
Some of the steepest airline discounts have been offered to first and business-class passengers, a segment which has seen the sharpest declines in numbers. Business-class seats on Emirates to London fell from Dh17,460 (US$4,757) in January to Dh11,175 this month, a 36 per cent discount. Local carriers have also lowered the cost of economy-class tickets, with Etihad Airways' fares to Sydney falling from Dh7,880 to Dh4,615, down 41 per cent, between January and June.
The hotel industry has teamed up with airlines to encourage holiday bookings and attempt to deal with falling occupancy levels. Last month, Emirates Airline and a number of hotels in Dubai launched a promotion for families that included free flights, hotel stays, meals and entry to attractions for children. The Jumeirah Group, which operates the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Burj Al Arab, is offering a summer family deal which includes free accommodation, meals and water park entry for children.
In April, Dubai's hotel occupancy levels fell to 72.6 per cent from 84 per cent in the same month last year, while revenue per available room declined to $205 from $292 in April last year. With additional reporting by Rebecca Bundhun email@example.com