Dubai won't be 'a ghost town' after Expo 2020: tourism boss

Dubai tourism boss insists the extra 80,000 hotel rooms to be built by 2020 won’t be left empty after the World Expo
Dubai won't be 'a ghost town' after Expo 2020: tourism boss
By Courtney Trenwith
Wed 19 Mar 2014 11:44 AM

Dubai’s tourism boss has insisted the emirate will not become “a ghost town” after it hosts World Expo 2020, defending plans to almost double the number of hotel rooms in the emirate.

Dubai is spending $8bn on infrastructure in the lead up to the international event and has announced measures to help developers produce about 80,000 new hotel rooms by the time of the Expo.

Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) director general Helal Saeed Almarri said the rooms would not be left empty following the event, which is expected to see 25m visitors during the six-month duration.

“None of these rooms are being built specifically for the Expo or any one event,” Almarri told Bloomberg.

“They’re being built purely because of the core tourism numbers. Dubai won’t turn into a ghost town after the Expo.”

DTCM announced last year it intended to double the number of tourists visiting annually to 20m by the end of the decade.

About 11m tourists visited last year, up 11 percent from 2012.

Tourism accounted for about 20 percent of gross domestic product in 2013 and is forecast to increase between 7-9 percent each year until 2020, Almarri said.

Dubai airport also is seeing record passenger traffic, with a 14 percent rise in 2013 and monthly figures now well over 6m passengers.

DTCM said earlier this month the number of hotel rooms and apartments at the end of 2013 was 84,534 at 611 establishments, compared to 80,414 rooms at 599 establishments in 2012.

Under the current development pipeline for 2014-2016 there will be an additional 141 hotel establishments added to the market, including 99 hotels and 48 hotel apartments bringing the total to 751 hotel establishments and just under 114,000 rooms.

“In order to provide accommodation for our targeted visitor numbers for 2020, we estimate we need a total of between 140,000 to 160,000 rooms and will work closely with the investment industry to make this happen,” Almarri said.

The range of hotel offerings, however, also needed to continue to expand to attract a wider market of visitors, the department said.

In September 2013 the government announced a concession on the standard 10 percent Municipality Fee levied on the room rate for each night of occupancy as an incentive for developers to bring forward construction timelines for three and four-star hotels.

This was followed by a series of directives from Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in January this year designed to enhance and streamline hotel investment in the emirate.

The Tourism Dirham scheme also will come into operation from March 31 and is seen as a method of raising funds for the international promotion and marketing of Dubai and to drive the growth of its tourism and trade industries.

The fee will vary according to the type of hotel establishment.

At five-star hotels, the fee per occupied room per night will be AED20; at four-star hotels it will be AED15; and at three-star hotels the fee will be AED10.

The AED20 fee will also apply to deluxe hotel apartments. Superior hotel apartments will pay AED15 per occupied room per night and standard hotel apartments will pay a Tourism Dirham fee of AED10.

The lowest charge will apply to one-star/budget hotels and guest houses, which will be charged AED7 per occupied room per night.

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