30% and 35% increase in cruise arrival and cruise passengers expected by 2015
Work is on to turn the UAE into a medical tourism destination
Dubai, UAE: In the wake of the emirate's winning of Expo 2020, opportunities for joint cooperation for Dubai and Hamburg exist in the area of tourism which is a leading driver of the emirate's economic growth, according to the latest study by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The study, released at the time of the departure of the Dubai Chamber delegation to attend the 4th Dubai-Hamburg Business Forum being held in the Hanseatic German city from February 4 to 7, highlights areas of mutual interest for businesses in both cities operating in the tourism sector.
According to the study, Dubai has become one of the fastest growing destinations for traditional tourism activities such as shopping, leisure and business tourism in the region and the world. In recent years, Dubai tourism market expanded to include other segments of tourism sub-sector such as sport, eco, healthcare and cruise tourism.
The study added that the Dubai tourism sector's expansion was enabled by the spectacular development and renovation of Dubai infrastructure, diversified economic growth and the vibrant cultural mix.
Dubai's tourism related sectors such as 'restaurants and hotels' and 'transport and communication' were Dubai's best performing economic sectors post the global financial and economic crisis. In 2012, Dubai's restaurant and hotel sectors were the highest growing sectors in Dubai's economy registering 16.9% annual growth rate.
The spectacular GDP growth of Dubai restaurant and hotel sector over the past few years, has led to the increase in its percentage share in Dubai's economy increasing it to about 4.5% in 2012 compared to 3.4% in 2008. On the other hand, in 2012, Dubai transport and communication sector has contributed 14% to Dubai GDP raising its share from 12% in 2008.
It is estimated that Dubai holds a 66% share of the UAE tourism economy. According to the World Bank, the UAE's total international tourism receipt was about USD 8.7 billion in 2012. While the total number of passenger arrivals to Dubai was about 2.6 million in November 2013, registering 10% year on year growth rate for the period November 2012-2013.
Dubai hotel rooms' occupancy rate has increased considerably during the past three years following the slowdown post the global financial crisis and economic downturn, registering an average 80% occupancy rate during 2013.
The study further estimates that the direct and the indirect contribution of the tourism sector to Dubai GDP is around 28.6% which is more or less equivalent to the contribution of the wholesale and retail sector.
The emirate's tourism sector has been singled out for large-scale investment. Already benefiting from its position as a regional air link, Dubai is hoping to attract tourists for longer stays with its multi-billion-dollar schemes and was the first in the region to launch a no-frills airline to take advantage of the recent rise in intra-regional travel.
The Dubai government recently announced the resumption of projects worth USD 1.1billion that had been postponed in 2009 after the burst of the real estate bubble. The government also launched the first phase of the Mohammed Bin Rashid City megaproject, which will boast the world's largest shopping center and 100 hotels.
Additionally, the development of large-scale projects, such as a USD 6 billion theme park called Dubai Adventure Studio and the Dubai Art Museum will ensure that leisure tourism increases at a rapid rate.
Dubai is projected to receive around 25 million visitors over the six month period of the Expo, with over 70% of these originating from outside the UAE. The total number would include 7.5 million resident visitors, 2.2 million Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) visitors, and 5 million transit visitors.
With a separate government target to attract 20 million tourists annually by 2020, the Dubai Expo thus ambitiously targets to nearly double the number of annual visitors.
Dubai Cruise Tourism
Dubai Cruise tourism is rapidly growing with 135 cruises and 375,000 tourists visiting Dubai in 2011. By the end of 2012, Dubai was expected to host 150 cruises with 475,000 passengers. By 2015, these numbers are projected to grow by 30% and 35% respectively.
The opening of the new Dubai Cruise Terminal facilitated the inflow of more cruise passengers and ships to Dubai than ever before. Spanning an area of 3,450 square metres, the new terminal continues to fuel Dubai's burgeoning cruise industry. The terminal is designed to handle between three to four ships simultaneously.
Dubai Cruise Terminal has been built to cater for the emirate's increasing number of cruise tourists. It is the only cruise terminal in the world operated by a government tourism department, implying that extra attention will be provided to visitors and guarantees the provision of enhanced services such as certified tour guides and a swift entry system with no visa issues for visitors.
Now Dubai is a major destination of choice to many global cruise lines, such as Costa Cruises which made Dubai its regional cruise hub in 2007, which is the largest Italian travel group and Europe's No.1 cruise line. On 23rd February 2010, the latest jewel of the Costa Cruises fleet, Costa Deliziosa, has been inaugurated in Dubai, during her grand maiden cruise.
This was the first time an Arabian city has hosted a cruise ship's christening ceremony. Another major cruise liner, the US Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has become the second major cruise liner to base a ship in Dubai.
Dubai International Patient Care
In 2012, it was estimated that UAE healthcare expenditure represented about 3.8% of UAE GDP, equivalent to USD 14.2 billion or USD 1,752 per capita which is among the top 30 highest rates in the world. Private sector funding represented 25.4% of total spending in 2012.
The government plans to improve its healthcare infrastructure to ensure that adequate medical services are provided in the emirate. While many UAE residents have traditionally sought medical care overseas, the UAE government hopes to ultimately reverse this flow, turning the UAE into a medical tourism destination. Imports of medical devices reached a new high of USD 779.4 million in 2012.
For the last few years, Dubai has become a destination for quality healthcare services especially by visitors from the Middle East and North Africa as well as the GCC, leading to the boom of Dubai medical tourism industry. It is estimated that, Dubai medical tourism industry generates over USD 30 billion worth of revenue annually.
Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) free-zone has about 900 clinics and hundreds of medical professionals both national and international, to serve the country's residents and visiting patients. It is claimed that Dubai Healthcare City is the largest international medical center between Southeast Asia and Europe.
Medical tourism in Dubai is regarded as an integral aspect of the healthcare sector and Dubai is looking to strengthen its position on the global healthcare tourism map. To achieve that objective, Dubai Healthcare Authority (DHA) is exerting huge efforts to put in place policies and regulations that can help streamline the functioning of the sector.
Dubai attracted numerous physicians and related paramedical staff with high quality and established state-of-the-art hospitals and clinics with the latest equipment of medical facilities.
Private sector has always been considered as a key stakeholder in developing Dubai healthcare sector and thus has been encouraged by the concerned local health authorities to develop state-of-the-art healthcare facilitates in the emirate of Dubai.
Ease of access, high quality standards and the relatively low medical cost has made Dubai an attractive destination for what is called medical tourism. In addition to the openness of Dubai health authorities to regional and global private sector participation in healthcare sector, Dubai medical tourism holds a huge potential for private investment and rewarding returns.
Traditionally, Dubai and Hamburg have been having a steady flow of visitors, especially in healthcare tourism but with Dubai's growth as a favourite tourist destination opens up the doors for joint cooperation with Hamburg companies that can offer expertise and vocational training.
Tourist activity to Dubai posted strong growth over the past few years benefiting from the emirate's economic stability, greater affordability and marketing initiatives focused eastward to Asia, where economic growth has been strong. High hotel occupancy rates have spurred development of new hotel projects, including several high-end luxury hotels. Dubai tourism and hospitality services should see further growth in the coming few years supporting the emirate's economy.
Dubai's tourism sector is expected to see double-digit growth rates. The winning of Expo 2020, along with other planned projects to develop the tourism sector in Dubai, provides a number of opportunities for foreign companies, especially from Hamburg, seeking to enter the Dubai market with their sustainable architecture, design, engineering and construction expertise.
Established in 1965, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a non-profit public entity, whose mission is to represent, support and protect the interests of the business community in Dubai by creating a favourable business environment, supporting the development of business, and by promoting Dubai as an international business hub.
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