Theme parks, entertainment scene to boost Dubai's tourism targets
The UAE's leisure and entertainment market potential will reach 45 million visitors by 2021.
Several new developments in the leisure and entertainment industry across Dubai, have been instrumental in bringing Dubai one step closer to its tourism targets, experts said.
Chief among these developments are the various theme parks that have put Dubai on the map for international visitors. PwC has forecast that the UAE's leisure and entertainment market potential will reach 45 million visitors by 2021, with international tourists accounting for 30 million, while residents and their friends and relatives total a further 15 million. As per estimates by the International Expo Consults, Dubai's theme parks could generate around $5 billion in annual revenue by 2020.
Ahmed AlRayyes, chief commercial officer at DXB Entertainments, said that Dubai has evolved as a multi-faceted tourist destination, with something for everyone.
"Not only is the city famous as a shopping destination and home to some of the world's most famous malls, it has also transformed into a family-friendly destination with a multitude of leisure and entertainment options," he said.
"Theme parks are the most recent addition to the leisure landscape of the city - and Dubai now hosts multiple theme parks, water parks, and other family friendly attractions," he added.
AlRayyes also said that as Dubai has continued to add tourist attractions over the last decade, the city has witnessed significant tourism growth.
The addition of theme parks to Dubai has increased the number of family-friendly attractions available for tourists to enjoy, and aims to contribute towards an increase in the average length of stay.
According to Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), Dubai welcomed a record 8.10 million international overnight tourists during the first six months of 2018. The emirate's tourism sector was worth Dh109 billion a year as at the end of 2017. Top source markets continued to witness stable year-on-year performances in the first half of 2018, with India, Saudi Arabia, and the UK, retaining their position as the top three source market.
Siegfried Boerst, general manager of Legoland Dubai, said: "The launch of a host of new attractions over the past three years has contributed greatly to Dubai's overall appeal and offering to residents and tourists. Since opening in 2016, Legoland Dubai has not only built a strong base of loyal resident annual pass holders, but we have also seen a significant growth from international visitors."
He added: "We are [also] the only park in the region that has been specifically designed for families with children between the ages of 2-12 years. Additionally, our resort offers multiple days of entertainment... we continue to work closely with Dubai Tourism on an ongoing basis to achieve the targets."
Data compiled by Expedia Group from the third quarter of 2018, showed that the number of Asian travellers to the UAE, particularly from China and India, has significantly increased, furthering the country's position as a top tourist destination. The data revealed that while travellers from US and UK topped the list for travel into the country, travellers from China and India showed the highest growth in demand compared to the same period last year - both showing almost 245 per cent and over 60 per cent, respectively.
Factors contributing to this significant increase include several initiatives made by the UAE government to further inbound tourism, such as providing free 48-hour transit visas to travellers passing through the UAE, visa on arrival facilities, and acceptance of Chinese credit cards.
Additionally, Indian tourists are likely to be choosing UAE as a holiday destination due to its easy reach; more than 1,000 flights operate weekly between the UAE and India. AlRayyes noted that as with any industry, the theme park industry in Dubai is likely to evolve over the coming years, with new rides and attractions being added to refresh the existing offering.
"We have recently seen a move towards the increased use of virtual reality technology within entertainment, and this is likely to feature in theme parks in the coming years."
"Dubai has firmly positioned itself as a family-friendly destination, and provides a wealth of activities and events for all ages throughout the year," said Dr Mohammed Ali Al Wahaibi, owner of Museum of Illusions Dubai, which recently opened in the brand-new Al Seef area.
The Al Seef area, he adds, has "perfected the combination of culture and entertainment".
"I believe that we will continue to see an increase in visitors to Dubai specifically because of family-friendly venues and the fantastic support we receive from Dubai Tourism and Meraas," Dr Al Wahaibi added.
As per estimates by the International Expo Consults, Dubai's theme parks could generate around $5 billion in annual revenue by 2020.
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