Increasingly important role of UAE’s major theme parks in achieving tourist arrival targets for 2020
UAE Theme Park
The UAE’s existing and new generation theme parks will attract more than 19 million admissions a year by 2020 if current trends continue, according to data released by Colliers International.
The prediction is made using existing admissions and arrivals data for Yas Island’s Ferrari World and Waterworld and Dubai’s Aquaventure and Wild Wadi as well as a sample of new and upcoming parks. All four parks have experienced a strong correlation between the rising number of visitors to the UAE and its admissions, with their combined admissions predicted to reach 19 million visitors annually.
Similar patterns are expected to be seen for IMG Worlds of Adventure and Dubai Parks and Resorts, which opened this year in Dubai. Both parks have ambitions to draw in millions of visitors in their first year of operations, with IMG expecting to attract 4.5 million people and Dubai Parks and Resorts predicting 6.7 million ticketed visitors.
“Dubai has a unique chance to replicate the success we have seen in other markets such as Orlando, Singapore and Tokyo, attracting new arrivals while also capturing a share of both the stop over and direct tourism markets,” said Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market. “Theme parks are a new addition to the tourism landscape here in the GCC and it’s important that destinations are positioned to take full advantage of the benefits they can bring,” he said.
The predictions were published in a report titled Theme Park Tourism, by Colliers International, and released to coincide with the openings of Dubai’s IMG Worlds of Adventure and Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR).
Typically, a theme park can expect to attract a visitor mix that is approximately 70% domestic, up to 20% regional and around 10% international, with MICE groups also forming a large share of admissions especially in cities with a strong business culture, such as Singapore and Tokyo.
Press added: “We are seeing the start of a new era for Dubai and the UAE with the opening of the world’s largest integrated theme park development, Dubai Parks and Resorts, and other mega attractions. These join the likes of Ferrari World and Yas Water World and naturally these will draw ever larger crowds to the region.”
DPR features four parks: Bollywood Parks, Motiongate and Legoland with Six Flags Dubai opening in 2019. It also boasts a hotel resort, Marriott’s Lapita from The Autograph Collection, the first inner circle theme park hotel in the region. With the Riverland retail and dining destination, the AED13.2bn development covers 30.6 million square feet of land.
IMG Worlds of Adventure spans 28 football fields and is the first global theme park to bring international brands Marvel and Cartoon Network together, in addition to two proprietary brands IMG Boulevard and Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure. The park features a unique array of roller coasters and attractions, 28 F&B venues and 25 retail outlets.
The new parks will also create a distinct economic boost for hoteliers following a difficult 24 months for the hospitality industry regionally. Hotels and airlines have seen business disrupted by events in key source markets including sharp fluctuations in the value of the Ruble, Euro and Sterling.
Colliers concluded that the closer a hotel is to a theme park, the stronger its performance will be in the key metrics of occupancy, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and RevPAR, the decade after opening.
Hotels located in the “inner circle” of a theme park development can expect to achieve occupancy levels two to 10 percentage points higher than properties in the outer circle and city. At Singapore’s Resort World Sentosa in 2015, an occupancy rate of 92% was achieved compared to an average of 85% for the city.
The average length of stay at theme park hotels varies from two to six days globally. At Disney World Orlando the average stay is 4.5 days, but this is attributable to the year round warm climate and the clustering of other parks and ancillary facilities in the Orlando area. Parks such as Euro Disney Paris, typically welcome guests for 2.4 days and Disneyland Tokyo only 1.3 days. Press added: “This is the UAE’s chance to position itself as a major leisure destination on a global scale and there are many businesses in the tourism and leisure industries which should position themselves to take advantage of this. With more attractions than ever before the UAE, and particularly Dubai, are making clear progress towards achieving their tourist arrival targets.”