x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai needs indoor attractions to woo summer visitors, experts say

Indoor attractions would draw more tourists during the scorching months of summer, experts said at a travel conference.

Visitors at Dubai’s indoor mountain-themed ski park at Mall of the Emirates. Experts say more such attractions are needed to lure tourists. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters
Visitors at Dubai’s indoor mountain-themed ski park at Mall of the Emirates. Experts say more such attractions are needed to lure tourists. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters

DUBAI // The emirate must do more to offer a greater variety of indoor attractions for tourists during the months of “extreme” hot weather, experts said at a hospitality conference yesterday.

Speaking at the Vision conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre, Russell Sharpe, head of the hotel division of Landmark Properties, said: “Four months of the year we have extreme heat and humidity which deters the tourists because you can’t do outside sports. For the rest of the year they are more focused on doing things outside rather than inside. What we really need is to have a tourism strategy that covers Dubai tourism throughout the whole year.”

He said the industry can no longer allow itself to “stagnate” during the hottest months of the year, thus relying mainly on the tourism from the GCC market.

“You need to have attractions that are indoors, things that people will come for even in the summer months. Singapore has tourism the whole year even though their weather isn’t as good. They have a consistent approach,” Mr Sharpe said.

More than 5.5 million tourists visited Dubai in the first half of this year, according to the Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing department (DTCM) – an 11 per cent increase over the same period last year. There has been a big rise in tourists from Russia, Saudi Arabia and China.

Dr Ahmed Belhoul, chief executive of strategy and tourism development at the DTCM said the body is “cognizant of the fact that Dubai has a very peculiar weather which we need to take into account ... regarding indoor attractions, there will be more coming.” Among those attractions are the IMG project Worlds of Adventure, an indoor theme park expected to attract 20,000 visitors per day. It is due to be completed next year.

Adam Page, group vice president for marketing at IMG Group, said the project will be a “key offering” to the emirate. Dubai’s only other similar attraction, the Global Village outdoor theme park, is open just a few weeks a year during the winter months.

“It’s about education, telling people around the world that Dubai isn’t just about frying in the sun in July,” Mr Page said.

“There are lots of other things to do, too. We’re sure the theme park will create a real destination for Dubai where people will come and enjoy it all year round.”

mswan@thenational.ae