By Filippo Sona, Director | Head of Hotels (MENA Region) of Colliers International
Who doesn’t love the exhilaration of theme parks? From the 7 year old, who can’t wait for her school field trip, to the co-worker at work, who constantly craves the cotton candy – these leisure facilities tend to cater to a multitude of visitors of all ages.
With the UAE already perceived as a family destination, the new theme parks increase its position in the region as an all-round vacation spot, indicating the correlation between tourist arrivals to the nation and these leisure demand generators. As both Abu Dhabi and Dubai would be considered theme park destinations, with the launch of IMG Worlds of Adventure, Dubai Parks and the forthcoming Warner Bros theme park on Yas Island, the surge in leisure tourist demand in the UAE won’t come as a surprise.
So how can a country ensure a theme park’s success and boost the parks’ lifecycle?
• Focus on regional markets: Considering that the GCC accounts for around 32% of UAE’s tourists and 15% are from India, wouldn’t parks benefit if they align design, facilities and theme to tastes and preferences to these guests?
• Theme park hotels: Theme park hotels offer somewhat different features to the typical city hotels, such as the range of F&B outlets and larger guestrooms, normally built to fit a family of 4. They are also located within the theme park – making access simply a walk away and they are often designed to echo the theme of the park.
• MICE facilities: Catering for MICE allows theme parks to maintain occupancy rates by appealing to a different type of guest in the weekdays allowing meeting attendees to disconnect from the office atmosphere and enjoy a relaxed environment.
Other cities such as Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah will benefit from the development of theme parks as well, in the same way the guests in these emirates benefit from Dubai’s shopping malls. Given the less than 2 hour driving distance from one city to another, theme parks would have a positive effect on tourism across the entire nation, in the form of higher average length of stay and a rise in hotel demand.
By improving entertainment facilities to a global level, with strong ancillary offerings such as hotels and extensive F&B and retail, isn’t it time the UAE is benchmarked along with the worldwide theme parks in Orlando, Sentosa in Singapore and EuroDisney in Paris?