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  • Colleen Cabili

How Dubai plans to house 20 billion tourists by 2020

Dubai rose from being a humble nation of fishermen and pearl divers to a glittering metropolitan in just a span of two decades. This dramatic transformation was in no small part because of the discovery of oil deposits in the ‘60s, but it was because of a proactive government and forward-thinking leadership that it was propelled to its status as a business hub and luxury vacation hotspot.

According to Global Media Hotspot, Dubai welcomed a whopping 15.8 billion international guests from 2017-2018, making it the 6th most visited city in the world after Singapore. A total of 628 hotels served as guest accommodations, making 107,717 rooms available for every kind of traveler budget. By 2020, the goal is to attract 20 billion tourists as it strives to make tourism a strong “central pillar of Dubai economic growth”.

Looking at these figures, how will Dubai house its 20 billion guests with less than a thousand hotels?

In other countries, homeowners lease their homes via AirBnB, an online marketplace for short-stay accommodations. The service gained popularity among travelers all over the globe, but has recently been embroiled in a plethora of security and health safety issues. In a country such as the United Arab Emirates the number one priority is to provide the best of everything for locals and expats alike, this issue closely tied to short-term rentals presented a challenge and also opened a unique opportunity for its real estate sector.

As response to the growing need for secure guest accommodations, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) in Dubai has laid down regulatory policies and infrastructure development ahead of the enforced timeline. One of these regulatory policies include the 2015 Dubai Holiday Home Rental Regulations which allow a private property owner or a tenant to rent out their entire apartment or house provided that it has been registered as a holiday home and leasing permits have been secured (renting out single rooms is still prohibited).

Through the Holiday Home Rental policy, a standardized system protects all parties involved in the transaction. Owner and operators are assured that they will receive assistance from the government as guests are allowed to book high-quality, fully-furnished homes complete with amenities.

It was a brilliant move that introduced an alternative to hotel accommodations, meanwhile boosting the real estate sector’s short-term rental market. Currently, there are about 10,766 active Holiday Home listings and with Dubai Expo 2020 fast approaching, more and more visitors are expected to opt for short-term rentals in the coming months.

Glittering metropolitan in just a span of two decades

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