Travel boom, bust or bubble?
Dubai and its imitators fashion themselves as tourist destinations. Are they in danger of overbuilding?
Booming emerging economies are the great hope of the world's travel and tourism industry. Dubai is the most shimmering example. It has only a tiny percentage of the United Arab Emirates' oil reserves, and so is straining to turn itself into a regional hub for finance, travel and high-class tourism. Three palm-shaped island-resorts are being built: the Palm Jumeirah (pictured), the Palm Jebel Ali and the Palm Deira. The Burj al-Arab, curved like a sail and on another artificial island, is the world's only seven-star hotel—with its own helipad, naturally. Dubai also boasts the Middle East's first indoor ski-slope.And, Asia, Beware Benidorm:
About 30% of Dubai's GDP depends on travel and tourism, but Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai's ruler, wants the industry to grow much more. He is the driving force behind the construction of Dubailand, a tourism and entertainment complex divided into seven theme worlds that are Dubai's answer to Disneyland. By 2015 Dubailand is aiming to attract 15m tourists [the population of the country is 5m of which 1.5m are citizens], roughly 40,000 visitors daily.
In the 1960s the governments of Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece encouraged the building of hotels and other tourist infrastructure, which seemed the fastest way to catch up with the wealthier north. During the 40 years of breakneck development that followed, vast stretches of the Spanish coast were concreted over, transforming the Costa del Sol into the Costa del Concrete and attracting hordes of tourists in search of sun, sea and sand. Some Greek islands have come to resemble a Hellenic Hong Kong, with high-rise hotels and traffic jams.Thanks to Secret Dubai for the second link about which she offers this analysis.
Some people in tourism made good money, but in recent years even they have started to notice how the ugliness and the noise is keeping visitors away. The government in Madrid grew so concerned that it bought tracts of seaside land itself, to stop developers from getting their hands on it.
As tourism is about to explode in the developing world, governments should heed such lessons.
What, you may ask, is Benidorm?