TALKING POINT | Is Dubai's plan to become the world’s most visited city a laudable goal or a laughable dream?
The Gulf boomtown and Qantas' international hub, courtesy of its partnership with Emirates, needs to exceed 16 million visitors a year to push London off the top of the tourist ladder – and airport transits don't count.
With the current tally standing at 11 million hotel guests in 2013 the city's challenge, suggests Sydney Morning Herald travel columnist Jane E. Fraser, is that Dubai "is a must-see but somewhere you only need to visit once."
"Once you’ve seen the architecture, cruised the waterways, visited the souks, been on a desert safari and gawped at one of the massive shopping malls, you’ve pretty much 'done' it", she continues. "I'm just not sure there’s enough to entice me back in a hurry."
The "largely manufactured attractions of Dubai" also come up short compared to the history and vibe of London and Paris, Fraser writes.
"London and Paris feel like they’re there for the people who live there rather than tourists, while Dubai feels like it’s been put there to impress."
Emirates reports that an additional 360,000 Australians have visited Dubai following its April 2013 hookup with Qantas.
But while Dubai doesn't need to forego its role as a stopover city on the way to Europe to become a destination in its own right, can it tempt travellers to repeatedly break their journey on successive trips?
In early 2013 Qantas ran its own poll of the most popular stopover city for flights to Europe, and reported that Australian travellers rated Singapore above Dubai and Hong Kong.
64% put Singapore at the top of the list, followed by Dubai at 61% and Hong Kong at 60%.
(That high ranking for Dubai raised a few skeptical eyebrows because the survey was taken before the Qantas-Emirates partnership took flight, so at the time of the poll no Qantas flights were travelling via Dubai.)
Given that Australian travellers have now had over a year of flying on the Qantas/Emirates network and potentially breaking their journey in Dubai, how do you rate Dubai's chances to become the world's most visited city? And has it overtaken the old Qantas hub of Singapore as your preferred stopover to Europe?
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT