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Dubai hotel guests record sizeable growth in 2003

The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has announced that the Dubai hospitality industry has kept up its …

The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has announced that the Dubai hospitality industry has kept up its record impressive growth levels by posting a modest five per cent increase in the number of guests in 2003, the year which witnessed economically debilitating developments like Iraq war.

The rapidly-rising portfolio of hotels and hotel apartments has helped the emirate`s hospitality industry play host to all-time record 4,980,228 guests last year, up from 4,756,280 in 2002 and 3,626,625 in 2001.

Dubai stunned the world in 2002 when the World Tourism Organization praised it for posting 31 % growth in tourist arrivals – the world`s highest for the year.

The DTCM Director General, Mr. Khalid A bin Sulayem, who is heading the delegation to ITB-2004 in Germany, released the statistics and said: Dubai`s tourism industry has been posting impressive year-on-year growth, even at times when the travel and tourism industry in almost every part of the world is going through downturns and negative developments.

He remarked: The significant performance strongly reflects the popularity of Dubai as a perfect and safest round-the-year destination for business and leisure. The location of some of the world`s unique properties and best beach hotels attracted more tourists from across the world to the emirate.

He added: The modest year-on-year growth assumes greater importance as this has been achieved despite the negative developments like Iraq war and SARS scare playing havoc with the global tourism industry. This growth strongly confirms Dubai hospitality industry delivering much beyond the guests` expectations.

The statistics revealed 32 % increase in guests from the US with 136,934 Americans making their way to the Dubai hotels which collectively played host a total of 207,334 guests from the Americas.

There was a 27 % jump in hotel guests from the Russia, CIS and the Baltic region. A total of 328,051 guests from this region stayed with the Dubai hotel establishments, up from 236,951 in 2000.

An eight per cent growth in European guests was recorded with a total of 1,294,885 tourists staying with hotel establishments in 2003, up from 934,239 guests three years ago.

The South Asian guests rose by 15 per cent followed by Far East hotel guests with 13 per cent. The Far East hotel guests totaled 257,863, up from 175,028 in 2000.

Similarly, a record 919,862 South Asian guests checked to Dubai hotels last year, up from 583,382 guests in 2000.

The Australasia and the Pacific guests swelled by 16 per cent last year from 34,921 guests in 2000.

A total of 276,683 guests came from the non-Arab African countries, up from 148,289 in the year 2000.

There was no significant change in the number of Arab guests during 2003, with 1,945,157 Arab nationals staying with hotels in the Middle East`s tourism, trade and technology hub.

There was a modest two per cent growth in guests from within the UAE with 396,101 nationals and residents staying in Dubai properties, while the number of AGCC hotel guests remained as strong as ever before – 1,025,383 AGCC nationals stayed in the emirate last year.

Mr. Mohammed Khamis bin Hareb, DTCM Director Operations and Marketing, who is also in Berlin for the ITB-2004, said: The performance of some of the established and emerging source markets for Dubai has been exceptionally good and amazing.

He added: Our aggressive marketing agenda and participation in more trade exhibitions and road shows has helped maintain the growth tempo and withstand negative developments in the near and far.

Taiwan posted 901 % growth in 2003 compared with 2000 figures. The Tajikistan guests increased by 785 % and Moldova and Zimbabwe guests rose 279 % and 203 %, respectively.

The Norwegian guests increased by 23 per cent -the highest in Europe in 2003 -followed by Spain and Italy with 18 % and 16 %, respectively.

In South Asia, the highest growth came from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

There was a 22 per cent increase in Sudanese guests followed by Syrians with 11 per cent. In Africa, Malawi guests rose by 58 per cent followed by Zambia with 26 per cent.

He said Dubai managed to buck the negative trends recorded by several destinations through its focused and well-planned marketing and promotional initiatives through the network of 13 Overseas Representation offices.

He applauded the cooperation and contribution of the public and private sectors in achieving the commendable results.

Mr. bin Hareb said: The exceptionally strong participation of hotel establishments in the overseas trade exhibitions and road shows under the DTCM umbrella has benefited the hospitality industry enormously.

Dubai hotels posted 148 per cent growth during 1996-2002, with a total of over 21 million tourists staying with them during this period.

There are 275 hotels (including 33 five-star properties) with 24,700 rooms in addition to 96 hotel apartments with nearly 7,500 furnished apartments.

The DTCM, created in January 1997 replacing a promotion board that existed for nine years, is the principal authority for planning, supervision, and development of the tourism in Dubai. It oversees the licensing of hotels, hotel apartments, tour operators, and tour guides.

The department manages heritage sites and the region`s first and only dedicated cruise terminal. The 3,300-square-metre cruise facility is the world`s first ISO-certified cruise terminal operated by a government tourism department.

An ISO-certified organization, the department`s aggressive marketing agenda covers the high-yielding Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector, promoted by the Dubai Convention Bureau which the department operates.

DTCM added four new exhibitions to its marketing agenda in addition to participating in 29 regular exhibitions in 2004. These are WTI (Mumbai), EMITT (Istanbul), EMIF (Brussels) and ILTF (Cannes).

The DTCM has published the 2004 edition of its 112-page flagship travel manual, Destination Dubai, in addition to a new business film.