The GCC has firmly established itself as one of the leading and most exciting tourist destinations in the world. Already valued at $178.8 billion a year, its hospitality, leisure and recreation industries are only set to grow, driven by rising visitor numbers, expanding populations and the hosting of major global events like Dubai World Expo.
The Hotel Show Dubai 2021 comes at a time of growth, innovation and change in the GCC hospitality market
Challenging trading conditions have been felt across all international hospitality markets over the last two years, but the GCC - and Dubai in particular - has continued to build. Robust growth in room numbers and sustained occupancy rates of around 78% have become the norm in Dubai, but this is now becoming supercharged as huge levels of investment enter the market in preparation for the World Expo in 2020 and the 20 million visitors that it's expected to host.
For the first time in decades, the fundamental structure of the GCC market is changing
The luxury end of the UAE market will always remain strong, but it's now also being complemented by a growing range of mid-market properties, exemplified by the huge success of Emaar's "Rove" brand of hotels. This emerging trend is based around a new type of younger, cosmopolitan audience coming to Dubai who are more focused on technology, convenience, speed of service and sharp, modern furnishings and restaurant offerings - all factors which are creating new opportunities for product suppliers.
Record hotel construction rates / international brand appeal
The Middle East currently has one of the busiest hotel construction pipelines in the world. There are currently a total of 640 projects (181,890 rooms) in the Middle East hotel construction pipeline, up 6% and 4%, respectively, year-over-year (YOY). Seeing the potential of the region as a whole, across the Middle East there are a number of leading and independent brands launching for the first time.
World-leading leisure and entertainment destination
Dubai is now considered as an international city on the global stage with New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, and is leading the development of the UAE leisure market together with Abu Dhabi. The next 5 years will see a transformation of the UAE's leisure and entertainment offering. Unique concepts include the world's first Bollywood theme park (Bollywood Parks™ Dubai), part of the Dubai Parks and Resorts development (now open), the world's largest indoor theme park (IMG Worlds of Adventure, now open) and the Warner Bros. resort on Yas Island,which is now open also, while some of the best attractions and tourist destinations in the world are being re-imagined.
A "Gateway to the Rest of the World"
Dubai is home to the world's busiest airport for international passengers (Dubai International surpassed London Heathrow in 2014) and is undergoing major additional infrastructure projects. With its central global location, Dubai "is within 4 hours flight of 3 billion people which is unrivalled".
Travel to the Middle East as a whole is expected to see strong growth over the next 10 years, with the region's strategic location and investment in airports and infrastructure establishing it as an important global hub. Laurent A. Voivenel, CEO at Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) told The Hotel Show: "Through projects announced to date, by 2020 the region will add airport capacity for 300 million extra passengers, build over 200 new hotels, add 100,000 additional rooms, grow visitor numbers to 150 million, and increase the size of its aircraft fleet by over 150% by 2025."