The timeshare industry in Dubai will grow by 50 per cent in 2017 driven by millions of tourists to the three theme parks that will open at the end of 2016, replicating the success story of Orlando, a major city in the US state of Florida, according to Arabian Falcon Holidays (AFH), the largest independent timeshare sales and marketing company in the Middle East.
“Dubai Parks and Resorts, the operator of Middle East’s largest multi-themed leisure and entertainment destination, expects over 6.7 million ticketed visits in 2017. That’s a huge number in the first year and will aid in the growth of the timeshare market here,” said Mohannad Sharafuddin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Arabian Falcon Holidays.
He added: “The timeshare market will grow exponentially in 2017, surpassing the growth rates of 15 to 20 per cent per year, and heralding a new era with an annual growth rate of 50 per cent, primarily driven by tourists visiting these theme parks.”
According to US media reports, Florida drew a record 97.3 million visitors in 2014 buoyed by an improving economy and theme-park attractions. A study by Ernst & Young for the American Resort Development Association, a trade association representing the vacation ownership and resort development industries, revealed the US timeshare industry contributed an estimated USD 68.7 billion (AED 252 billion) in consumer and business spending to the national economy in 2013.
“The economic impact of the theme park on the timeshare market is relevant to Dubai as well. It will increase the number of tourists from Africa and Asia by leaps and bounds, making it the top timeshare destination in the Middle East and North Africa. It will also add more than AED 14 billion by 2020 to the emirate’s economy,” Sharafuddin said.
The three parks that are currently under construction are:
•Motiongate, a Hollywood inspired theme park concept based on major DreamWorks Animation and Sony Pictures movies
•Legoland Dubai, the first Legoland theme park
•Bollywood Parks, an entertainment destination that will showcase the Bollywood movie experience
The parks are located in close proximity to Al Maktoum International Airport and will be connected to Dubai Metro lines and other rail links to help facilitate access for tourists and residents.
Another attraction is the USD 6.81-billion Mall of the World project by Dubai Holding, a global investment holding company, which will have a glass-domed theme park, the largest in the world. The mall is set to become one of the prime tourist destinations and is expected to be constructed over a period of 10 years.
“Dubai’s location, significant existing attractions and strong tourism infrastructure position it well to benefit from anticipated strong tourism growth in the Middle East,” Sharafuddin said.
According to the 2014 UNWTO Tourism Highlights Report, the Middle East is expected to be the fastest growing region in the world for inbound tourism with visitor numbers expected to reach 149 million in 2030 compared to 52 million in 2013.
Dubai is aiming to attract more than 25 million tourists by 2020 compared with 10 million in 2012. In addition to sound local fundamentals, Dubai benefits from being one of the leading global tourism and commercial centres in the Middle East, with approximately 3 billion people within a four-hour flight time and 6 billion within an eight-hour flight.
Sharafuddin said the timeshare industry in Dubai is one of the most regulated in the Middle East and North Africa even though the law regulating the industry is still pending.
The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera), the legal arm of Dubai Land Department, approved in 2008 regulations to govern the timeshare industry. These have been drafted by Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services, and RCI, the largest timeshare vacation exchange network in the world.
The draft regulations include registration of developers, registration of timeshare management companies and filing of sales contracts and disclosure statements with Rera before advertising or sales commence, ensuring owners are entitled to an itemised budget for their timeshare, including revenue and expenses, and even restriction on the level of increase in annual maintenance fees.
“We welcome the regulatory measures taken by Rera to control and bring transparency among industry participants. They are very stringent and any non-compliance is considered a violation of the licensing terms and results in an administrative fine for the operators. Moreover, Rera does conduct training courses that our marketing and sales executives attend to refresh their knowledge and harness their skills,” Sharafuddin said.