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Can UAE become the number one tourism destination in 2020?

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Over 80 international industry experts from PwC, STR Global, Deloitte, and more are announced today to be speaking on mega trends and developments in the hospitality and leisure industry in the UAE a

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Over 80 international industry experts from PwC, STR Global, Deloitte, and more are announced today to be speaking on mega trends and developments in the hospitality and leisure industry in the UAE and globally at the 3rd annual Vision Conference in Dubai.

The 3-day conference features as part of industry-leading events The Hotel Show and The Leisure Show, expected to welcome over 18,000 attendees to the DWTC 28-30 September 2015.

Philip Shepherd, Partner, PwC Middle East Hospitality & Leisure Leader, announced as a speaker on the ‘Mega Trends’ panel at the Vision Conference said: “The UAE already rivals world-leading tourism and leisure destination, Orlando, in the scale of its transport links, hotels, F&B, and its central global location within 4 hours flight of 3 billion people, which is unrivalled. By 2021, the UAE will have developed the other key ‘enablers’ to become a world-class leisure and entertainment destination and world-leading competitor.”

“We forecast that by 2021 the addressable UAE leisure market will have increased by 70% on 2015 figures to 45 million people including 31 million international tourists, with residents, their relatives and friends, a further 14 million,” Shepherd continued. “While the UAE has many of the ‘enablers’ in place or planned, ultimate success will depend on co-ordination between the Emirates, hotels, transport providers and the various UAE-wide attractions set to launch. If successful, UAE attractions can achieve 18 million theme park visits alone by 2021, in comparison to Singapore’s 6.7 million and Hong Kong’s 15 million today.”

In the UAE alone, leisure mega-attractions in the planning, construction and pre-opening stages include Dubai Parks and Resorts (2016), Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi (2017) and Dream Island, Ras al Khaimah (2018).

Phil Taylor, Managing Director of Team Leisure LLC speaking on the topic of “Dubai theme parks: boom or bust?”, explores the massive undertaking of 10 major theme parks, 2 safari parks and 3 international museums being developed concurrently in the UAE at present. He said: “The UAE in particular is at an interesting point in its development as a global tourism and leisure destination. Not content with what it has achieved already, it has set itself an even more ambitious vision for the future. The Vision Conference Dubai 2015 is an exciting opportunity for the leisure and hospitality industry to consider the vital role they play in delivering this vision and what lessons there are for the rest of the region.”

“The wealth of leisure development is matched by mass hotel construction to cater for projected increases in tourist arrivals for 2020 and beyond,” said Christine Davidson, Group Event Director of the dmg events hospitality portfolio. “The UAE is currently leading the region’s hotel construction with over 50,000 rooms in the pipeline. Major hotel projects opening soon include the luxury St. Regis Dubai and Bab al Qasr in Abu Dhabi. However, the most prominent hospitality trend emerging from the Vision Conference programme for 2015 is the growth of mid-market hotel options catered for families.”

Daniel G. During, Principal and Managing Director of Thomas Klein International will discuss the necessity to develop and grow the mid-range sector at the Vision Conference. He said: “My presentation will address the lack of budget resorts in the Emirates. The growth of mid-market hotels is now essential to the success of the UAE’s tourism vision. With improved airport capacity and infrastructure, expanding airline networks with a focus on low-cost carriers, emerging source markets in Africa and Asia, and the addition of new family tourist attractions, there is huge demand for affordable options. Operators across the region are now looking at how they can do their part to attract new market segments, including younger families, millennials travelling in smaller budgets and younger travellers in general who will be drawn by the 2020 exhibition.”

During continued: “The UAE hospitality market remains near-saturated with luxury resorts. With new mid-market and budget hotel options entering the market, the UAE will be more likely to realise its vision to become a leading world destination by 2020 with a variety of attractions, F&B outlets and hotels to cater to a variety of audiences.”

Vision Conference Partner for 2015, Canon Middle East, joins the Sustainability for a better tomorrow panel debate. Other topics to be discussed at the conference by a host of industry experts include: Architecture of the future – how far can it go; Investment in the Egyptian hospitality market; Chefs debate – trends and predictions; and Dubai MEGA PROJECT – an inside look.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.