Dubai hotels must be 'China-ready' to cater for influx of tourists, expert says

Economists said the number of Chinese visitors would swell to tens of thousands in the first quarter of this year

Powered by automated translation

Dubai's hospitality industry must become “China-ready” as the Asian country reopens following years of Covid-19 related travel restrictions.

A senior figure in the region’s tourism sector said hotels had to be prepared for an influx of visitors from China.

This included providing menus written in Mandarin, as well as having at least one employee who spoke the language and offering favourite Chinese dishes at buffets.

It was announced earlier this year that China was open again for tourism, with the UAE being seen as a key destination for visitors from there.

“We are very aggressive about being China-ready,” said William Harley-Fleming, vice-president of operations for UAE firm JA Resorts.

“That includes making sure we have Mandarin speakers on the team and the menus are available in Mandarin.

“It’s about making sure the experience is tailored towards that market. An example is having dim sum available on the breakfast menu, that’s not something you expect from other markets.”

He was making his comments on the side lines of the opening day of the Arabian Travel Market, which is being held at Dubai World Trade Centre until Thursday.

The rise in the number of visitors from China mirrored a report earlier this year in The National.

Economists and tourism experts predicted the number of visitors from China would swell to tens of thousands in the first quarter of 2023, boosted by direct flights to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

“It’s important we adapt and react to patterns so we are ready,” said Mr Harley-Fleming.

“We need have the key touch points tailored to the Chinese market, that includes everything from the arrival at the airport, arriving at the front desk, pronouncing their names — right down to room service.

“We have to look at what they would expect and provide it.”

Hoteliers in Dubai, and across the UAE, would be well placed to cater for visitors from China, according to another expert.

“The opening of China is going to be a game changer for us,” said Haitham Mattar, managing director in the Middle East, Africa and south-west Asia for IHG Hotels and Resorts.

“However, Dubai has led the way since many years ago when it started catering for Chinese markets."

Another tourism expert said travellers from China were also showing more concern for sustainable tourism than before.

“Sustainable travel is without doubt a key priority for the Chinese market,” said Inge Huijbrechts, global senior vice president for responsible business and safety and security with Radisson Hotel Group.

A report released earlier this year by online travel agency showed the vast majority of Chinese tourists saw sustainable travel as a priority.

The number of those who saw sustainable travel as a priority was 85 per cent, with 60 per cent saying they were concerned about climate change.

However, the same report said many Chinese tourists were unwilling to have to pay more to travel sustainably.

Updated: May 02, 2023, 3:00 AM