Dubai has had to consider new initiatives to attract more tourists to hit optimistic targets. Having set itself the ambitious goal of attracting up to 25 million visitors a year by 2025, Dubai faces a big challenge after the whole of the UAE received less than 75% of that in 2018.
The emirate has traditionally been seen as a luxury destination with glamorous hotels and extravagant shopping malls. To hit visitor targets, however, it will need to appeal to a wider range of travellers.
Free alcohol license will change views
Despite the problems it can cause, socialising with alcohol is an important part of travel for many holidaymakers. Drinks could previously only be consumed in licensed locations such as hotels and resorts, but visitors to Dubai have been unable to purchase alcohol for private consumption. Tourists previously deterred by religiously conservative alcohol laws may now have an increased interest in visiting Dubai because they will be offered a free 30-day alcohol license.
The license will allow non-Muslim tourists over the age of 21 the chance to purchase alcohol in MMI (Maritime and Mercantile International) liquor stores.
It will still be an offence to drink or be drunk in public, but the new license will likely increase the appeal of the emirate to those who consider alcohol a necessity on holiday.
TikTok tie-up likely to resonate with younger travellers
As well as the new 30-day license, July also saw the announcement of a partnership with video sharing app, TikTok, for the #ThisIsDubai social media campaign. Users were invited to share short videos of attractions in Dubai. 9,800 videos were created, which were viewed over 30 million times. Considering TikTok has been downloaded over 800 million times and available in 150 countries, this has been a clever way to raise the profile of Dubai for the next generation of travellers.
Fee-free visa for under 18s will attract more families
Family travel is very lucrative and in recent years there has been a focus on attracting families to Dubai. Activities such as video gaming experiences, theme parks, and aquariums have been widely showcased to show tourists that there is more to do than shop.
July and August – when many children are off school – are typically the cheapest times to visit Dubai because of the intense heat. Therefore travel companies hope that by further decreasing the cost of travel for families, Dubai may be seen as a cost-friendly option for part of the year.
Foreign workers are attracted to Dubai for their tax-free salaries and there are many more expatriate residents than UAE residents, meaning there is ample opportunity to increase VFR travel. Families have been put off in the past by expensive visa fees so this new fee waiver should encourage families to visit their relatives in Dubai.