x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Kids go free initiative

The Dubai Government launches a "kids go free" initiative as it steps up efforts to boost the emirate's tourism.

The Dubai Government yesterday launched a "kids go free" initiative for the summer as it steps up efforts to boost the emirate's tourism, which has suffered from the global slowdown. Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said the worldwide promotion, which runs from July 1, had the support of more than 70 hotels and would help boost occupancy levels.

The offer includes free accommodation, meals and entry to attractions for one child under 16 who is accompanied by two adults. New data from STR Global shows a 40 per cent drop in revenue per available room last month in Dubai compared with the same month last year to Dh517 from Dh867, and a drop in occupancy levels to 67 per cent from 78 per cent. Alex Kyriakidis, the global managing partner at Deloitte Tourism Hospitality and Leisure, praised the Government's efforts to co-ordinate Dubai's tourism, saying the unity of the airlines, hotels and the Government was an effective strategy.

"The DTCM has stepped right in and partnered the industry," Mr Kyriakidis said. "They've worked in marketing-consistent themes for the consumer so you don't have several product providers going off in different tangents." Emirates Airline last month announced a promotion for children that included free flights, hotel stays, meals and entry to major leisure attractions. Preliminary data for the first quarter from the DTCM showed a 14 per cent fall in hotel revenues compared with the same quarter last year.

Revenues fell to Dh3.66 billion (US$997 million) in the first three months of this year from Dh4.26bn in the first quarter of last year. The number of guest nights at Dubai's hotels and hotel apartments fell 12 per cent in the first quarter to 5.344 million, from 6.067 million last year. This was despite a 5 per cent rise in the number of tourists, which reached 1.955 million in the first quarter of this year, according to the data. The DTCM also plans to launch a comprehensive media campaign aimed at Dubai's largest tourist markets, which are the UK, Germany, India, Russia, China, Japan and GCC states.

"The fact today is that every single country in the world that is dependent on the tourism industry is fighting for the survival of its tourism market," Mr Kyriakidis said. Dubai's tourism and hotel sector accounted for 19 per cent of Dubai's GDP last year and indirectly contributed towards 32 per cent of economic activity. @Email:rbundhun@thenational.ae