Dubai International Airport

Dubai International Vs Heathrow: Maximizing the worldwide tourism surge

How Dubai International is overtaking Heathrow as busiest airport in the world 

As countries the world over do their best to accommodate the growth in tourism – headlined by the $102 billion spending power of mainland China’s tourists – there have been two major airports which have been neck-and-neck for the top spot as the world’s busiest. The last few years have seen the UK’s Heathrow Airport holding on to that coveted spot, however, going into the first couple of months of 2014, the UAE’s Dubai International finally displaced London’s flagship airport thanks to a 13.5% growth rate, which translated to over two million passengers more than Heathrow. 

This new development doesn’t really come as a surprise to Rice University professor Jim Krane of the Baker Institute. A specialist on geopolitical affairs in the Gulf, he has always maintained that “Dubai really is in a sweet spot as far as global travel goes. While Heathrow is a break between North America and Europe, Dubai sits in between the far bigger population centers of Asia.” 

With this continuing rise in inbound tourism, Dubai is focussing ever more attention on the city’s culture and arts scene. An undertaking by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), the project aims to open more establishments that provide cultural value and/or showcase artistic artifacts. DCTCM chief executive Issam Kazim has been keen to list the most notable: “On an infrastructure level, [there are] major developments, such as the historical district of Dubai, the redevelopment of Old Dubai, and also the development of an opera house and the metro museums.” 

All of this progress in the Middle Eastern country’s tourism sector notwithstanding, London might just have a trick or two up its sleeve. UK airport parking service site parking4less reports the imminent unveiling of Heathrow’s extensively expanded Terminal 2 in June, which is due to be called the Queen’s Terminal. The additional space and facilities here are projected to cater to an additional 20 million flyers per year. Moreover, the UK government increased funding for its GREAT Britain tourism campaign with an additional £90 million – more than $150 million – which will ensure its progress until at least early 2016. 

Only time will tell if the UK’s valiant efforts will be enough for Heathrow to retake the throne as the most visited airport in the world. Until then, here in Dubai and with the winning bid for Expo 2020, we seem to be set to milk the tourism cow for all its worth.