Why Dubai’s a global holiday hotspot

Dubai Skyline

Iconic buildings, artificial islands, new mega theme parks, dancing fountains and a number of one-of-a-kind attractions make the destination a top pick for discerning global travellers

Dubai is the number one place to visit in the Middle East and the 13th best destination for a holiday in the world.

So says TripAdvisor, which recently released its coveted Travellers’ Choice Destinations 2016 list based on the opinions and reviews of millions of visitors from around the world.

It marks a jump of 11 places in just one year, given Dubai was ranked 24th in the 2015 ranking. So what is the fuss all about?

According to the Travellers’ Choice Destinations 2016 awards description, “Dubai is a cosmopolitan oasis, a futuristic cityscape that towers over the Arabian Desert. This is a city of superlatives, home to the world’s largest dancing fountain; tallest building (Burj Khalifa); only seven-star hotel (the Burj al-Arab); largest artificial islands (the Palm Islands); and largest natural flower garden (the Miracle Garden). Rent a dune buggy for a desert adventure, bargain at the open-air market, or cheer on your favourite humped hoofer at the Camel Race Track.”

Dubai attracted more than 14.2 million visitors in 2015, many of whom flocked to see the top five must-see attractions listed by TripAdvisor: The Burj Khalifa, the Dancing Fountain and Dubai Mall, all located in Downtown Dubai, not to mention Jumeirah Group icon, the Burj Al Arab hotel, as well as popular themed water park, Aquaventure, part of the larger-than-life pink resort, Atlantis, The Palm, located on the apex of The Palm Jumeirah.

The positive TripAdvisor listing is supported by the findings of Dubai Tourism’s inaugural Dubai International Visitors Survey (DIVS), which revealed a massive 98 percent of international visitors to Dubai in 2015 rated their travel experience at 7 out of 10 or higher, with more than 61 percent of respondents giving a 9+ score.

Dubai experiences proving the most satisfactory were ‘Beach & Marine’, followed closely by ‘Hotels & Accommodation’, according to the travellers surveyed.

Dubai’s ‘Shopping’ and ‘Gastronomy’ propositions also registered a high level of satisfaction, as did ‘Family’, ‘Adventure’ and ‘Sport’ offerings.

“The findings from our visitor surveys will continue to inform Dubai Tourism’s on-going efforts to deliver a superior end-to-end destination experience to ensure visitors become loyal repeat travellers,” says Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism & Commerce Marketing.

“With continued development of specialised facilities, sophisticated infrastructure and content through 2016 spearheaded by the opening of three new theme parks, a robust calendar of events, festivals and concerts, as well as enhanced beachfront and coastline regeneration initiatives, Dubai ultimately expects to make every visitor to the emirate a life-long ambassador of the destination.”

A number of key top-draw attractions will open in 2016, including two mega theme parks, helping to further propel Dubai’s international appeal among families and longer-stay visitors.

Dubai Parks & Resorts – which houses LEGOLAND Dubai, LEGOLAND Water Park, Motiongate Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai – will open in October this year, and is projected to attract 6.7 million visits in its first full year of operation in 2017. The company has also announced the addition of the Middle East’s first Six Flags theme park, which will open in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Meanwhile, IMG Worlds of Adventure, opening in August, has a capacity of 20,000 visitors per day and is forecast to attract 4.5 million visitors during its first full year of operation, with an equal split between residents and international visitors.

In addition, Dubai Safari, the iconic Dubai Opera House and the theatrical residency of La Perle by Dragone at Al Habtoor City, will greatly enhance Dubai’s global appeal when they open later in 2016.

Survey respondents indicated a desire to explore Dubai’s cultural, arts and heritage offering. Projects already underway to boost this aspect of the destination include the Dubai Historical District.

Spearheaded by Dubai Tourism in close collaboration with Dubai Municipality and Dubai Culture and Arts Center, this 1.5 km regeneration project aims to enhance Khor Dubai, as well as other historical neighbourhoods of Bur Dubai, Al Fahidi and Deira.

The goal is to showcase the emirate’s heritage, particularly in the fields of trade, handicrafts and pearl diving ably complementing other cultural experiences offered around the emirates.

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