Burj Khalifa a towering tourism influence
One year after its opening, the Burj Khalifa has established itself as one of Dubai's biggest tourist attractions and helped surrounding hotels boost business by up to 35 per cent from 2009.
On New Year's Eve, thousands of revellers gathered at the world's tallest building, which receives an average of 4,000 visitors a day to its viewing deck, to watch a fireworks display broadcast around the globe.
"I would compare it to some of the leading icons that cities are using all over the world," said Ian Michael, a professor of marketing at Zayed University in Dubai.
"I see it as probably one of the first and lasting icons Dubai has created to attract tourists. It's a magnet for tourism. It's a must-see now for everyone who comes to Dubai.
"If you look at cities like Sydney and New York, the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco have become icons. Up until the Burj Khalifa, there wasn't really a big icon that [Dubai] had claim to.
"I think a lot of the past years it was the Burj Al Arab … but I'm not sure that stood out as much as the Burj Khalifa"
Abdo Kayali, a director of sales and marketing at the Qamardeen and Al Manzil hotels in Dubai's Downtown area, says that with Dubai Mall, the city's fountains and the Burj Khalifa all in place, the area's popularity with tourists is growing tremendously.
"Hotels around the area of Downtown Dubai are trying to benefit the maximum because of their proximity to the Burj Khalifa," he said.
"If you go to Paris, you must go to the Eiffel Tower, and if you come to Dubai, you have to come to the Burj Khalifa."
Mr Kayali said all the hotels in the Downtown area were full for New Year's Eve, with the location having positioned itself as a gathering point for celebrations.
The filming of some scenes of the latest Mission: Impossible film, starring Tom Cruise, at the Burj Khalifa, can only increase the building's cachet.
"I see a tremendous opportunity coming soon with the Mission: Impossible movie," said Mr Kayali. "I see increased demand for the Downtown area after the movie is launched."
Al Murooj Rotana hotel, near the Downtown area, is also benefiting.
"We do have particular guests asking for a Burj Khalifa view," said Anke Glaessing, the resident manager at Al Murooj.
"You have people coming saying 'I want to stay opposite the highest tower in the world.' It is definitely a selling factor for the Al Murooj."
Ms Glaessing said the hotel had been running an almost full house over the recent holiday periods including National Day and Christmas.
Vipen Sethi, the chief executive of Landmark Group, whose restaurants - Carluccio's and Mango Tree - overlook the fountain area by the Burj Khalifa, said there had been an increase in traffic and visitors. He could not say exactly how much that increase was but said activity was "really picking up".
"[Burj Khalifa] is getting to be a popular destination. It's packed over the weekend," Mr Sethi said. "There are a lot of people there shopping, walking around, the food courts are busy and they have a lot of nice restaurants. The whole Burj Khalifa area has been a feather in the cap of Dubai. It has come up very nicely."
Dr Michael said he expected the building would feature in numerous advertising campaigns over the next few years. "I think a lot of marketing Dubai will be doing in the future will be around the Burj Khalifa, similar to what Sydney would do. You probably cannot market the brand Sydney without the opera house."
* additional reporting by Armina Ligaya
Updated: January 5, 2011 04:00 AM