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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Dubai is the seventh most visited destination in the world and number one in MENA.
Emirati hospitality is legendary. It has its root in the ancient Arabian custom of welcoming desert travellers with warmth, kindness and generosity. From the traditional serving of Arabic coffee to making sure that guests are comfortable, the UAE has continued its hospitality tradition with keen devotion to the highest standards of modern service. This has made it one of most visited countries in the world.
Let's take for instance Dubai - from its humble beginnings as a fishing village in 1833, it has transformed itself into one of the top 10 metropolitan tourist destinations and is home to around 200 nationalities and cultures.
Dubai is the seventh most visited destination in the world and number one in Middle East and Africa. It has so far attracted more than 16.3 million tourists this year, according to Euromonitor International's Top 100 City Destinations 2019 report.
The once small creek-side settlement welcomed 15.92 million visitors last year and is targeting 20 million tourists next year, in time for the six-month long Expo 2020 which begins in October 2020. Dubai is also aiming to host 21 to 23 million tourists by 2022 and 25 million visitors by 2025.
Several reports show that Dubai is racing ahead to surpass New York City, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur and Rome, in terms of tourist arrivals.
Analysts also say that Dubai will reach its ambitious tourism target because of "greater investment in the tourism sector as well as in infrastructure, and more focus on delivering initiatives that promote tourism".
The Expo factor: ?Beyond 2020
Industry leaders say Dubai's tourism and hospitality industry will continue to expand beyond 2020, due to ever-increasing flow of visitors to theme ?parks, cultural and natural attractions, and construction of ?more affordable hotels.
Increasing service standards, new attractions, renovating existing venues, introduction of new brands and renewed focus on promoting Dubai as a destination, including Expo 2020, will not only attract new tourists to the emirate but also increase their average length of stay.
In an earlier interview with Al Khaleej Today, Sidharth Mehta, partner and head of building construction and real estate at KPMG Lower Gulf, said: "As the Expo 2020 installations are repurposed, it is anticipated that the number and scale of these attractions will continue to grow. Significant tourism development such as IMG Worlds of Adventure, Dubai Parks and Resorts and cultural attractions like The Louvre in Abu Dhabi, are expected to steadily attract leisure travellers for the decade beyond 2020.
"Huge investments in airports and hotels, broadening portfolio of attractions, diversification of source markets and ?collaboration between various business sectors are all accelerating the pace of Dubai's growth into the future," added Laurent A. Voivenel, SVP, operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India for Swiss-Belhotel International.
HOSPITALITY IS THE FUTURE
> BEST IN THE BUSINESS: Dubai plans to be world's most popular tourist destination by 2025. This entails 25 million visitors a year to unseat current hotspots like Bangkok, London and Paris
> HOSPITABLY YOURS: Its hospitality sector will see a rise in shared economy due to expanding middle class tourists, growth of low-cost carriers, emergence of new forms of competition such as Airbnb and rapid digitalisation
> FITS THE THEME: Dubai's initial ventures into theme parks, in addition to upcoming supply from Abu Dhabi, could consolidate the emirate as a major theme park destination
> CATERING TO PEOPLE OF DETERMINATION: Dubai is also aiming to become one of the world's most disabled-friendly cities. Currently public buildings and spaces are retrofitted to fulfil a new emirate-wide, disabled-friendly code.
> BE A SPORT: Just recently, Abu Dhabi was named the world's leading destination for sports tourism at World Travel Awards in Muscat.
MAN-MADE AND LOVED BY MAN
> Burj Khalifa
> Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
> Ferrari World
> Yas Waterworld
> IMG Worlds of Adventure
> Wild Wadi Water Park
> Dubai Parks and Resorts
> Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi
IT'S BUT NATURAL
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Sharjah Arts Museum
Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation
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