UAE to rival Orlando as entertainment destination

New report from PwC says UAE’s pipeline theme parks will attract 18mn visits by 2021

Dubai Parks & Resorts will feature Motiongate Dubai.
Dubai Parks & Resorts will feature Motiongate Dubai.

A report released by professional services consultancy PwC, ‘UAE’s transformation into a world-class Leisure & Entertainment destination’ has revealed that the UAE’s theme parks in the pipeline will attract 18 million visits by 2021.

The PwC report says that the UAE can become a world-class leisure and entertainment destination to rival cities such as Orlando, Singapore and Hong Kong if it takes a holistic approach to exploit its geographical location, high quality attractions and investment in infrastructure.

Set to open in October next year, Dubai Parks & Resorts will comprise three theme parks and one water park: Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Park.

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The development will also feature Riverland Dubai – a grand entrance plaza and Lapita Autograph Collection Hotels, a family themed hotel.

“The UAE has come a long way to realise its global ambition of becoming a Leisure & Entertainment hub, and rival Orlando, which is the current market leader,” said Philip Shepherd, partner, PwC Middle East Hospitality & Leisure Leader.

“The country has recognised that it needs to continue investment and focus on the quality of attractions, as well as appealing to a diverse visitor base from across the world. Though coordination between the Emirates is essential for success,”

PwC estimates the total L&E market potential in the UAE is set to almost double to 45 million visitors by 2021, with international tourists accounting for 30 million, while residents and friends and relatives of residents total a further 15 million.

The report looks at the current tourism enablers that have provided a strong foundation for the UAE to become a global hub for tourism, as well as the key considerations for the country to continue growing to become a world-class leisure and entertainment destination.

“The key to a consistently successful destination is enabling visitors to enjoy multiple attractions. Offering multi-park tickets, all inclusive packages and coordinated visitor management from booking through inbound and local transportation, hotels and attractions will be crucial,” added Shepherd.

The report warns that theme parks will need to deal with the diverse cultures of visitors from the Middle East, Asia and Europe, in addition to overcoming climate challenges.

They will also have to provide the right destination management institutions to ensure an effortless experience for visitors, and to compete with destinations such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

The UAE already rivals Orlando in terms of scale, transport links, and food & beverage facilities and its central location — within eight hours of six billion people — provides an unrivalled advantage to further transform the industry, the report states.

While Dubai International Airport sees 70 million international passengers per year, Orlando airport has 36 million passengers annually, with many visitors driving from nearby states.

The UAE’s supply of hotel rooms is set to double by 2020, from approximately 100,000 rooms in 2014. In contrast, Orlando hotel room supply was approximately 120,000 in 2014.

The foodservice sector is worth approximately US $5 billion in the UAE, in comparison to $5.6 billion in Orlando. The UAE foodservice sector is set to increase by half to $7.5 billion in 2018.

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