'Foolish if we built hotels just for Expo,' says Emaar Hospitality CEO

Olivier Harnischsays hotels are being built to position Dubai as a 'real' tourism destination long after the expo is over

Executive interviews, Operators

By Lubna Hamdan

Hotels are not built for six-month events such as Expo2020, but for long-term market development, according to Emaar Hospitality CEO Olivier Harnisch.

The chief executive warned against constructing hotels just for the event, which will see developers add 50,000 rooms to accommodate 25 million visitors expected to visit Dubai.

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“I don’t know if anyone would build hotels just for expo. We’d be foolish if we built hotels just for Expo,” he told Arabian Business at the Gulf and Indian Ocean Hotel Investors’ Summit (GIOHIS) in Abu Dhabi.

Harnisch said tourism in Dubai is growing fast enough to keep up with the long term effect of Expo, which will strengthen Dubai’s position as a world city and project it as a real tourism destination beyond leisure.

“This is a very dynamic market. Even putting aside the expo factor, supply is growing fast, but demand is also growing fast. Tourism in Dubai is growing by 7-8% every year. This is tremendous. It is about two million room nights that come every year, on top of what we have already. And this demand needs to be accommodated, so I’m very optimistic,” he said.

He added that there is no reason to believe the momentum will change.

The chief executive also cautioned against comparing the Expo2020 to the 2012 London Olympics.

“There’s a difference because London has a 100 year history and Dubai is much younger. It is still establishing itself,” he said.


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