Tourism chiefs in Dubai on Sunday revealed their new target - to make the emirate the most visited city in the world.
One year into the delivery of Dubai's Tourism Vision for 2020, significant first steps have been taken to achieve the target of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, leading the tourism authority to set the new ambition.
Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said that if a growth rate similar to that achieved in 2013 is maintained - a 10.6 percent year-on-year increase equating to 11 million hotel guests - Dubai will overtake London, which currently attracts 16 million tourists annually.
He said in a statement: "Since His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the Tourism Vision for 2020 at last year's ATM, the UAE has won the right to host Expo 2020 in Dubai; the first phase of our second international airport has opened at Dubai World Central and a substanial number of new hotels, attractions and events have opened, taken place or been announced.
"Further, in addition to UAE federal pre-entry visa regulations on European Union member states being lifted, major legislative changes have been made which will directly and positively impact the tourism sector and enable us to attract more business and leisure travellers.
"The Tourism Vision for 2020 is a framework which gives all of us in the tourism industry a clear and collective focus... while the city is already seen as a must-visit destination, a continuous drive to innovate will lead to a constant reinvention of the visitor experience, creating one that is unrivalled anywhere else in the world.
"It is this collective industry commitment that makes us confident that we will be able to achieve our targets of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, and inspires the ambition to eventually become the world's most visited city.
"The pursuit of this ambition means that for the tourist the destination is constantly being enhanced with more attractions, more events, more hotels, world-leading infrastructure and services and a holiday experience which delivers beyond expectations - whether the tourist is visiting for the first time or is a repeat guest."
Issam Kazim, CEO of the newly formed Dubai Corporation of Tourism and Commerce and Marketing, added: "Due to our landmark projects and unprecedented developments, Dubai is known around the world as a 'must-see' city.
"One of our objectives is to adapt this narrative so it becomes known as a city that 'must-be-experienced' - it's a subtle shift but one that supports the reality of what the destination has offer: a breadth and depth of remarkable experiences that deliver beyond the expected."
The new marketing approach will be shared with the travel trade industry during Arabian Travel Market including a preview of a new digital ecosystem that will be launched later this year.
This includes a website, app and social media platforms which have been designed to attract and inform visitors and help them plan their trip and experience the city during their visit.
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