Dubai aims to triple tourism income by 2020
By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai aims to triple its annual income from tourism to 300 billion dirhams ($82 billion) by 2020, which would involve doubling the number of its hotel rooms, a senior official said.
Tourism is crucial to Dubai's economy, which had a gross domestic product of around $90 billion last year; it supports the emirate's large retail industry as well as its hospitality sector.
Occupancy at Dubai's 599 hotels, which have 80,500 rooms combined, was 78 percent in 2012 as the number of visitors rose 9.3 percent from a year ago to 10.16 million, according to data from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).
Helal Almarri, director-general of the DTCM, told Reuters that the emirate was likely to have more than 160,000 hotel rooms by the end of the decade and aimed to attract 20 million tourists annually by then.
Most decisions to build hotels would not be made by the Dubai government but by private companies. However, the Dubai government is active in supporting growth of the industry by providing infrastructure, marketing the emirate overseas, adjusting visa policies for visitors and expanding the network of the state-owned Emirates airline.
Saudi Arabia, India and Russia will be the main contributors to expected growth in tourist numbers, Almarri told Reuters.
"With Emirates airline and other carriers we focus very much on extending the routes to those markets," he said.
Dubai's main airport handled 5.85 million passengers in March, up 20.6 percent from a year earlier, according to airport authorities. Continued...