Sunday, 5 October 2008

Sustainable Tourism Development: Dubai

Bad Honnef University Lecture:

Tourism Destination Dubai

The Private University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef Bonn ranks amongst Germany’s most renowned institutes for higher education in the service sector. In the field of tourism management, the institute achieves special recognition through its bachelor, graduate and master programmes. The strong focus on preparing the students for an international career is reflected by a world-wide network of partner universities and English as the exclusive teaching language.

FH Bad Honnef Tourism Management

The Department of Tourism Management, headed since the first days in 1998 by Prof. Dr. Helmut Wachowiak, emphasizes a well-kept balance between theory and practice within the different curricula. As part of the ldestination management course, I had the pleasure of being invited to give a guest lecture at the campus in Bad Honnef about a topical development: Dubai – The Tourism of the Future?

Dubai is presently considered one of the most exciting and fastest-growing tourism destinations world-wide. After having given an introductory overview of the Arab World, the lecture focused on the time line of tourism and commerce development of the small Emirate since the finding of oil in the late 1960s. This way, it was made clear that the current success of Dubai did not happen by chance, but is the result of a long-term strategy and determined vision of its leaders.

However, the artificial tourism product Dubai creates through an amazing array of shining, innovative and record-breaking new projects does not go without negative impacts. An assessment of the sustainability of Dubai’s tourism model shows a number of weaknesses in terms of socio-cultural, economic and ecological aspects. Especially the impact on the environment is tremendous, with the United Arab Emirates scoring extremely low e.g. in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2008 by the World Economic Forum.

WEF T&T Competitiveness Report 2008

The lecture was held before a very interested and motivated group of 50 students, having joined together from different courses for the venue. Discussions about the success factors and Dubai’s recipe for growth were lively, both in an acknowledging and a critical manner. The student feedback to the first-hand insights from the industry was consistently positive and showed the great interest for the destination Dubai, its current positioning but also its way into the future.

Also from my own point of view, the lecture was highly interesting and showed the controversy that the development of a largely artificial tourism destination can create.

And whether Dubai will continue its success in the future – this only time can tell.

Andreas Hauser

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