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Wed 7 May 2014 01:55 PM

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Hoteliers confident Dubai can become world's most visited city

International hotel bosses say they believe Dubai can achieve its new goal to overtake London as the most visited city

Hoteliers confident Dubai can become world's most visited city

International hotel bosses are confident Dubai will achieve its goal to become the most visited city in the world.

Tourism chiefs announced the new aim on Sunday, saying that if Dubai’s visitor growth rate continued similar to 2013, the emirate would overtake London as the most visited city by 2020.

Dubai recorded a 10.6 percent year-on-year increase and saw 11 million hotel guests last year, compared to 16 million in the UK capital.

Many of the world’s top hoteliers have been in Dubai this week for two travel events. They all told Arabian Business, they had no doubt Dubai would reach its goal, given its dedication to the industry and its history of achieving targets.

IHG India, Middle East and Africa CEO Pascal Gauvin said Dubai already was on the way to becoming the top tourist destination.

“It’s a good vision,” he said. “Already the airport is going to take over Heathrow in a couple of years.

“When you see the [strength] of Emirates and it’s growing at this pace ... Everything is phenomenal and they always want bigger, larger, better. So I think the vision is great, the leadership in this country is just remarkable.”

Viceroy Hotel Group regional vice president, sales and marketing Tricia Warwick said Dubai already had shown it was dedicated to achieving the goal.

“I arrived [in Dubai] in 2001 and heard Sheikh Mohammed’s statement, ‘build it and they will come’. I had my hand on my heart thinking ‘can they do this?’ And then I watched it happen,” she said.

“Every challenge this city has set its sights on, with the exception of the economic downturn in 2008-09, it has achieved.

“And then you [ask] me that question and I think the answer is ‘yes’.”

The president and CEO of Brussels-based Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Wolfgang Neumann, said Dubai’s plan to be the number one visited city was “absolutely feasible”.

“Today Dubai ranks already amongst the top cities of the world, equal to Tokyo, Paris, London, Istanbul, so to have this drive and ambition to become the most visited city, I think is possible,” he said.

“The key component is airlift and Dubai has an enormous advantage and new infrastructure on the way. Being a hub literally, in terms of east-west connectivity, and Dubai airport being so attractive as a facility, I think [means] everything plays in favour of Dubai.”

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