About 6,000 Chinese insurance and finance industry professionals will meet in Dubai next week after the emirate beat competition from Hawaii and Singapore to host their annual conference.
The event will help Dubai maintain its high rate of growth of visitors from China into the second half of this year.
In the first six months of 2015, Dubai received 241,000 Chinese tourists, up 25 per cent compared to the same period a year earlier, Dubai Tourism said yesterday.
Dubai has made a concerted effort to woo the Chinese traveller, and the announcement that the International Dragon Award (IDA) Annual Meeting will be held in the city for the first time starting onSaturday will be welcomed.
“China is a very important inbound market for Dubai, and the emirate is making big efforts to attract more Chinese visitors,” said Issam Kazim, chief executive of Dubai Tourism. “We set out a plan from 2012 to bring in more Chinese guests, this is not a short-term shift, the timeline is mid to long term.”
Chinese visitor numbers to the emirate are predicted to rise 98 per cent in the 10 years through 2023 to 545,000, according to a report in March from Oxford Economics and InterContinental Hotels Group.
The growth will be supported by the rising supply of three- and four-star hotels in the emirate, which appeal to the increasing numbers of Chinese travelling.
Of the 3,600 hotel rooms expected to come on stream in the nine months through December this year, 44 per cent would be rated three-star or lower, according to JLL.
The organisers of the IDA conference said Dubai was chosen ahead of many bidders including Hawaii, Bangkok, Singapore and cities in Japan and Taiwan because of “its first-class accessibility”.
“Once the Dubai government offered some financial support and we saw the infrastructure and the city, the decision was not a hard one,” said Richard Wu, chairman of the IDA 2015 Annual Meeting. “This will be the first time the conference has been held outside of Asia, and we have had many people expressing a desire to come and see the ‘city of the future’ as Dubai is seen.”
The increasing number of visitors from China is a welcome fillip for the emirate as the stream of Russian tourists slows amid economic sanctions at home. Russian tourist numbers fell by almost a quarter last year.
“Russia is a very important market because it doesn’t just impact hotels, it hits retail,” said Rashid Aboobacker, a senior consultant for TRI Consulting. “Dubai tourism is a diversified market so it doesn’t have a major impact. The Chinese visitors don’t spend as much when they get here and they stay in smaller hotels. Dubai has always been known as an expensive destination. Maybe this is a natural correction which needed to happen.”
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