Timeshare concept can develop property sector market

DUBAI - The timeshare concept can develop a captive market for the mushrooming property sector and aid the rapid growth of the tourism and hospitality business in Dubai, according to Raju Shahani, president & general manager of RCI Asia & Middle East.

By Babu Das Augustine

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Published: Sun 1 Feb 2004, 12:17 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 11:49 AM

"The property development and the hospitality sectors have a complementary growth agenda, while the timeshare concept can be a catalyst in capturing the maximum potential of these two sectors in a city like Dubai," Shahani said.

He believes that Dubai with its excellent infrastructure and high quality property can become a hot timeshare destination for both family and corporate clients.

Timeshare business has existed in the region since 1980s, however, the industry is still at a nascent stage. Currently, there are 38 operational timeshare resorts across the Middle East and 28 are under various stages of construction. Last year, more than 30 million holiday makers visited various destinations in the Middle East. More than 80 per cent of the timeshare properties are located in Egypt with a growing number of resport properties under development in the Gulf region, especially in Dubai.

Contrary to the popular belief, the tourist arrivals to the region have gone up post-9/11, and the war in Iraq had not had any major impact on the timeshare related tourist arrivals in the region. "The governments in the region, especially of the UAE, Bahrain and Oman are actively promoting tourism through shopping festivals, sports events and international conventions. Timeshare will certainly add a new niche mass-market dimension to the tourism industry," he said.

For property developers, timeshare is a new avenue to diversify their customer base. A large number of international hotel chains such as Hilton, Marriott, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Farimont, Hyatt and Starwood, which have a presence in Dubai are developing timeshare products worldwide and it is just a matter of time they add Dubai to their global timeshare portfolio.

Timeshare resorts typically operate at more than 85 per cent occupancy resulting in higher F&B spends and other income as compared to traditional hotels and resorts. In addition, it offers hotel companies opportunities to leverage their brand names and cross utilisation of traditional hotel products and timeshare products.

With the development of a number of new beachfront properties and the new Palm developement project, timeshare business is all set to take off in Dubai. The new timeshare properties coming up at Palm Jumeirah include $300 million project to build a 300 room five star hotel and a 460 room resort project being developed by Kuwait-based IFA Hotels and Resorts. The Group has extensive international timeshare properties in countries such as Portugal, South Africa, Lebanon, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The huge potential of timeshare business has attracted RCI, a global provider of leisure travel services in vacation property exchange, renatal and resort management to Dubai. Last month it opened its Middle East regional office in Dubai. RCI operates the world's largest vacation exchange network, RCI Weeks with three million members around the world. Dubai has been chosen as the site for RCI's regional office because of the massive investments in building tourism infrastructure and the contemporary approach the emirate has to tourism.

"Due to the unregulated sale timeshare products in the region in the past, there is some amount of negative perception among the customers. Proper consumer protection laws that prevent fly-by-night operators from selling timeshare products can help the healthy growth of the business in the region," he said.

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