Time for change?

62% say Dubai needs to offer more than luxury hotels

Dubai needs to move away from its expensive, luxury hotels and provide more alternatives to continue to grow its number of tourists, the results of an online poll reveal.

More than 60 percent of people who took part in the Arabian Business poll said they believed less visitors were coming to Dubai because its expensive image put them off as they cut back on luxuries during the continuing global financial crisis.

Their views chimed with that of global PR guru Max Clifford who told Arabian Business last week that Dubai needed to develop "a softer image" and become more cost effective to ensure its tourism industry continued to grow.

"It is very much money, concrete, vast hotels - everything is money, money, money. I think there needs to be a softer image than it has got," Clifford said in an interview.

He added that he believed Dubai must offer more than its elaborate buildings and needed to counter the perception that it is "obsessed with money and wealth".

He also said Dubai had become overpriced, adding it needed to become better value for money.

A total of 62 percent of the 600-plus votes said hotel prices were a major issue and needed to be reduced.

A further 23 percent said that while Dubai had done well to establish itself as a luxury tourist destination, the time was now right to widen the city's appeal and offer more value.

Only six percent of respondents told us that the emirate should not change its policy as more visitors were coming despite the downturn while another nine percent said Dubai's luxury offerings would always be in demand and that a decline in visitors was just part of the global slowdown in the tourism industry.

In october, Dubai hoteliers were told to "start being realistic" and stop harking back to the days of Utopia when they could charge extortionate rates.

Arabian Adventures and Congress Solutions International senior vice president Frederic Bardin said Dubai was "still expensive compared to the rest of the world", making it uncompetitive.

"Even though RevPARs and occupancies dropped this year, we still have some of the highest rates in the world - these hotels are still living in Utopia," Bardin said.

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