Exclusive: No Negative Feedback From Tourism Dirham: Dubai Tourism Chief

The new charge, varying between Dhs7 and Dhs20, was introduced on March 31 and is applicable per room per night across hotels in Dubai.



The recently imposed ‘Tourism Dirham’ fee on hotel guests in Dubai has not garnered negative feedback so far, the head of Dubai’s tourism authority has said.

The new charge, levied from March 31, 2014, varies between Dhs7 and Dhs20 per room, per night, dependent on the hotel category and rating.

It is applicable to guests staying in all genres and rating of holiday accommodation including hotels, hotel apartments, guesthouses and holiday homes.

“So far we have not had any major issues,” said Helal Saeed Al Marri, director general of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

“Usually anything new that is introduced, for the first three to six months you always have to manage it carefully, but we expect in the long term for this to be a very positive aspect.”

Speaking exclusively to Gulf Business, he clarified that the fee will be wholly spent on boosting the emirate’s tourism sector.

“The amount will be invested directly back into the tourism sector in terms of enhancing the sector, promotion and a new tourism academy. The way we see it is that the tourism sector as a whole benefits from it greatly and the tourism sector agrees with us on this,” he said.

The fee is also expected to support the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, a new entity launched by the emirate in January this year to focus on the international promotion and marketing of Dubai. The new body is an affiliate of the DTCM and will primarily market the ‘Dubai brand’.

“We studied [the Tourism Dirham] in great detail and found that many growing cities across the world, like us, do apply a similar sort of fee on hotel guests,” stated Al Marri.

“And the fee is per day per room night, not per guest, so when you divide it by guests it’s much lesser because usually we have more than one person per room,” he added.

Over 11 million guests stayed at Dubai’s hotels last year, up 10.6 per cent compared to 9.9 million in 2012, according to the latest figures from DTCM. Total guest nights last year rose 11 per cent to 41.57 million, while occupancy rates for hotel rooms and hotel apartments increased to 80 per cent.

Dubai hopes to attract 20 million visitors per year by 2020, as part of its tourism strategy, and experts estimate that the Expo will draw an additional five million visitors.

The entire interview with HE Helal Al Marri will be out in the May issue of Gulf Business.