The glitz and glamour of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are proving to be a big draw for Chinese travelers.
The UAE became an approved destination in China two years ago, which makes it easier for Chinese tourists to get visas to travel there.
The super luxury hotels and malls are some of the main attractions for wealthy Chinese.
Although Chinese tourists account for only a small percentage of the visitors to the area, the number of Chinese tourists jumped by 40% last year. “The number of arrivals from China in 2010 was about 150,000 out of 8 million,” according to Liz Martins, a senior economist at HSBC MENA. She said that this is still very early stage.
“It’s expected that there will be 100 million outbound Chinese travelers by 2020 and already it’s quite close to 50 million outbound tourists, so why would we ignore it? It’s a great opportunity,” said Gerald Lawless, executive chairman of Jumeirah Group which owns the Burj al Arab, the first self-titled 7-star hotel.
“Year to date, the total number of Chinese visitors to the Burj, the total percentage of our business, is about 25%,” he added. “One of the great things for us is that the Chinese love to travel in the summer time. They don’t mind that it’s quite warm in Dubai in the summer, so it’s not even pushing into our high season.”
The UAE has ambitions to double the number of tourists by 2020.
Meanwhile, the Jumeirah Group is opening hotels in China. It opened its first hotel in Shanghai in 2011 and has plans for five more in China.