x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Tourists pour in to Dubai for sunshine and cheap hotels

Emirate attracts new overseas markets as travel experts say good exchange rates boost trade along with sun, sea and attractions

A boy takes a picture of his parents at the observation deck of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. The landmark is one of the many exciting draws for tourists. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo
A boy takes a picture of his parents at the observation deck of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. The landmark is one of the many exciting draws for tourists. Kamran Jebreili / AP Photo

DUBAI // Among the tourists who touched down in Dubai this week to sample all that the emirate has to offer was Evhen Kuchbarskyi from Ukraine.

Mr Kuchbarskyi, 45, an engineer, said it was his first trip to Dubai after being tempted by the good value hotel rates - and he gave the holiday destination the thumbs-up.

"I like Dubai a lot," he said as he soaked up the atmosphere at The Walk shopping attraction by Jumeirah Beach. "The buildings are nice, there's the sea, the beach, the weather is good."

He said that the highlight for him was visiting the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. "It's something that you won't see anywhere else."

Many tourists are flocking to Dubai, attracted by better hotel deals and the increase in the number of flights. A better range of accommodation as well as more attractions in the emirate have added to the holiday destination, experts say.

"Dubai is still appealing for so many tourists," said Samir Hamadeh, the director of sales and marketing at Alpha Tours Dubai.

"Adding an area like Downtown with the attractions Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall definitely had a nice impact for people to come and see something new in Dubai."

He said Dubai was now appealing to new markets such as India and China. New routes to Russia opened by the budget carrier flydubai would also help attract more visitors from the country. Hoteliers said that business had started to pick up following Ramadan, and a strong last quarter was expected as business conferences, meetings and sporting events such as the Louis Vuitton Trophy approached. The Gitex technology exhibition this week also had a positive impact on hotels in Dubai.

Guy Epsom, the director of business development at Moevenpick Hotels and Resorts in Dubai, said: "The market is definitely coming back and it's helped by the fact that the dollar is quite low at the moment due to the currency wars.

"The increase in the number of hotel rooms does mean that you have more competition and therefore cheaper rates. The combination of the dollar exchange rates and the cheaper rates make it a very interesting destination for travellers from Europe and also the Far East.

"Although it's hard and there are lots of hotels opening up, I do think there's a market and it will continue to grow as we continue to open more gateways.

"Ramadan was worse this year because it was backed right on the end of the summer. It has happened before in Dubai that when there's a period like that when many people go away, there's often a big bounce back after that period. I think November we will do very well - it's Eid, you've got the Formula One going on in Abu Dhabi and it's a good business month."

The number of guests staying in hotels in Dubai rose almost nine per cent in the first half of the year, data from Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing shows.

A total of 4.18 million guests stayed in the emirate's hotels in the first six months of the year, compared with 3.85 million guests in the same period last year.

The number of hotel rooms reached 67,369, representing a 16 per cent increase from 58,188 rooms last year. The number of nights tourists spent in hotels in Dubai was up 18 per cent to 12,462,209 nights from 10,541,955 nights during the same period last year.

"There is a general improvement," said Anke Glaessing, the resident manager at the Al Murooj Rotana Hotel in Dubai. "Obviously the weather gets better and that's one of the reasons why the European tourism is coming back.

"The GCC tourism has always been very strong here anyway and I think that's due to the attractions Dubai has to offer - all the malls, the beach resorts that we have.

"Dubai has done quite a bit of advertising, which obviously helps to regain the confidence. Dubai has a good mixture of leisure and corporate. Generally, the trend is back."

rbundhun@thenational.ae

* Additional reporting by Megan Detrie