Dubai's tourism authority is planning to open an office in South America as it hopes fast-growing Latin economies such as Brazil and Argentina will supply an influx of visitors to the emirate.
"We are looking into South America," said Hamad bin Mejren, the executive director of business tourism at the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). "That is a market we are concentrating on. I assure you we have plans to open an office in South America. When Emirates [Airline] flies to a destination, we work together."
Emirates at the beginning of this year launched flights to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires. Dubai attracted a record number of tourists last year, with an increase of 10 per cent over the previous year to a total of 9.3 million hotel guests staying in the emirate, according to figures from the DTCM. Hotel revenue reached close to Dh16 billion (US$4.35bn) last year, an increase of 20 per cent over 2010.
This was helped by strong growth from emerging markets including China and India, and now Dubai is hoping Latin America can help the emirate achieve further growth. Such markets have become increasingly important as Dubai last year reported a decline in tourism from Britain, which used to be its biggest feeder market.
Sao Paulo, to which Emirates flies direct, is one of the favourite options for the location of the office, but Mr Mejren said he did not have an expected opening date.
Hoteliers in Dubai said they had already noticed an impact from the launch of the new flights connecting Dubai to South America. The Ramada Downtown hotel said Argentina had climbed into its top 10 source markets for guests in the past two months. "Flights are going there, so it's a new market," said Wael El Behi, the executive assistant manager at the hotel.
"They're coming here to discover Dubai the destination. They're coming here as well for trading and for business. They like the shopping." He said he thought Argentina and Brazil had enormous potential for further growth. "Definitely it's a market we need to focus on," he said. "The sky is the limit. Dubai is now trying to promote itself in different markets and they're very aggressive in this."