Holidays

Dubai: The ‘first resort’ for family holidays

More and more choosing to enjoy their vacations in the emirate, thanks to enticing offerings

You stepped into Dubai and the first thought that crossed your mind was, “when will I get my family here on a visit?”

This thought hits everyone under the sun – expats, visitors and everyone else in between. So what tempts families to choose Dubai as tourist destination?

A new Arabian Falcon Holidays (AFH) survey says diversity of tourist attractions, multi-cultural community, openness, tolerance, value for money, a wide variety of entertainment and dining options, and safety and security are some of the prime reasons Dubai is emerging as the ultimate family vacation destination.

The emirate has established itself as such for international tourists, with eight out of 10 keen on bringing their families on their next visit here, a survey with 1,212 respondents has revealed. More than half of the international tourists choose to enjoy their vacations in Dubai with their families, clearly reflecting the emirate’s fast-growing popularity as a preferred destination for family tourism.

Al Mohannad Sharafuddin, founder of AFH, said the vision of Dubai’s leadership to diversify the economy with a strong focus on tourism and investments toward new attractions and world-class infrastructure are strongly contributing to making Dubai a favourite holiday destination among families.

Dubai welcomed more than 14.9 million international tourists in 2016 and has been witnessing strong growth in tourism, particularly after the approval of Dubai Vision 2020 for the tourism sector, which lays a strategic roadmap with the goal of attracting 20 million tourists (doubling the number welcomed in 2012) annually by 2020.

Airbnb – which provides access to millions of accommodations from apartments and villas in more than 65,000 cities and 191 countries – is very optimistic about its growth in the UAE, both in terms of the number of guests staying in an Airbnb when they travel as well as with the listings hosts offer to tourists.

“I believe this positive trend will continue, especially now that we are partnering with Dubai tourism,” says Nicola D’Elia, general manager for the Middle East and Africa at Airbnb.

“With more than 2.3 million family-friendly listings on Airbnb, not only families from Dubai have more options than ever in choosing listings that provide desired amenities like kitchens, Wi-Fi and pools.”

Endorsing a similar positive sentiment, Antonie Mostert, operations manager at WMK Holiday Homes, said: “I do believe more families travel to Dubai more often than usual. They tend to know exactly where they want to stay regarding area and even price range. According to our statistics, Americans tend to take advantage of only the winter [peak season] months, and the Europeans arrive during the summer [low season] months. Some of the interesting trends we have observed are that people most definitely want to be close to the The Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, walking distance would be essential, the minority would want to stay close to a beach.”

According to the AFH survey, 18.6 per cent tourists said diversity of tourist attractions was what they liked the most about Dubai, followed by Dubai’s multi-cultural community, a factor that made Dubai a preferred destination for 17.5 per cent international tourists. As Dubai continues with its focus on developing family tourism through massive investments toward infrastructure and developing new attractions, family tourism is set to record further increase.

Damac Properties – operating in the luxury serviced apartments segment – caters to customers who seek luxury serviced hotel accommodation that offers ample space for families.

Niall McLoughlin, senior vice-president, Damac Properties, said: “One of the leading sectors in Dubai is tourism and the number of tourists continues to grow significantly. For this year alone the number has reached 7.26 million for the first five months of the year, on track to exceed the 14.9 million recorded for 2016. Furthermore, according to the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competiveness Report 2017 the UAE was ranked 29th globally and scored first place amongst Middle Eastern destinations.”

McLoughlin says that Saudi Arabia is considered the second-largest source market for visitors to Dubai, with over 670,000 visitors from January to May 2017, and this is understandably so considering the importance that Saudis place on family values, and naturally family tourism is high on their agenda.

With the number of attractive destinations in Dubai and the booming leisure and shopping options for visitors to choose from, “we expect to continue to see a surge in the number of visitors and hence the number of serviced hotel units in the deluxe and luxury category will need to increase to serve the number of visitors. The Dubai market has already proved that serviced hotel apartments have a bright future in the Middle East, with the availability of clientele who seek this type of accommodation. Saudi Arabians top the list of tourists to the emirate and a large percentage of them prefer to stay at the hotel apartments due to the spacious rooms since they are travelling with their families and also the privacy that they offer, with that ‘home away from home’ feel. Therefore, if we target this market in the right way and the right season, we can maximise and grow our business.”

The AFH survey points out that around 58 per cent of tourists said they planned to visit Dubai again within the next six to 12 months.

“The number of establishments offering hotel apartments in the luxury/deluxe segment comprise just under 10 per cent of the total hotel properties in Dubai. Therefore there is plenty of opportunity to further develop properties in this segment to meet the demand. Our vision is to be the number one operator and developer of luxury hotel apartments in the Middle East and we have a healthy pipeline of hospitality units under development, a significant number of which are hotel apartments,” adds McLoughlin.

“Dubai surely continues to grow in popularity with families. Over the last year, even more so. Dubai has always had the malls, beaches, hotels, infrastructure, etc, but now with the advent of amusement parks like Dubai Parks, IMG World of Adventure, etc, it clearly has become on the major destinations to offer such family oriented entertainment in the region, even extending to South Asia,” said Geet Bhalla, chief executive officer and co-founder of Holidayme.

“Furthermore, additional developments like City Walk and Box Park continue to offer newer avenues for families to revisit Dubai. Also, with low-cost carriers adding newer connections within the six-hour radius of Dubai, it is now more cost-effective to reach here for more than half the world’s population. Very few cities offer the repeat value of Dubai in this context simply because Dubai never stops surprising you.”

– sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

Sandhya D’Mello

Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.


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