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University United Arab Emirates University (UAEU)
Subject Journal Of Vacation Marketing

INTRODUCTION

Lessons of experience from several countries of the world explicitly suggest that tourism can be used as a means to attain the avowed objective of economic diversification and growth.’ Therefore, the UAE has also taken steps to promote tourism in the country! Although global tourism has been putting up steady growth in recent decades, the UAE attracts less than 1 percent of the world’s reported 500 million annual tourists. In recent years, the UAE has organized sonic events, such as the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), to give a boost to tourism activities in the country.

In fact, a cluster of attractions and related tourist facilities and services has been created under the auspices of the DSF to attract tourists. It is assumed that any lack of positive experience with even one of these areas may dramatically influence the perceived quality and visitor satisfaction.’ Moreover, there has been a proliferation and improvement of facilities for tourists almost every year since the DSF was launched in 1997, with a view to attracting new tourists from various parts of the world and also motivating tourists to make repeat visits to the country to experience and enjoy these facilities. In view of the strategic role given to the DSF, it would be interesting, in this study, to look particularly at the demand side and make an empirical assessment of the perceptions and experiences of first-time visitors and of those repeating their visits to the UAE to participate in festival tourism.’

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This kind of exercise, it is hoped, would provide useful insights into tourist perceptions of the DSF-related activities and environment that have been created and enriched over the years. A comparison between the perceptions and experiences of first-three visitors with those making repeat visits to the festival hopefully would help policymakers draw a fine line between the festival activities that prove attractive to each group of visitors.

LITERATURE REVIEW

A review of the literature suggests that people’s preferences for travel experiences are now more diversified, and their travel types and more diversified, and their travel types and motivations have become more specific.’ Interestingly, the supply side of tourism has dominated discussion and analysis in the literature on tourism? Curiously enough, very few marketing researchers considered the demand side of tourism,’ although it has ‘en observed that tourists perceive many images of their destinations. Are these images likely to influence their entire Behav-oil patterns as consumers? Contemporary literature recowases that: vent tourism has emerged as a powerful strategic tool in various parts of the world. Event tourism refers to festivals and gatherings staged outside the normal program of activities. Those events’ success as tourism 4entrators relies mostly on their distinctive-3CSS and timing.

The event is the focal point around which existing Facilities such as AC-accommodation, transportation, and other tourism-related infrastructure are provided.”‘ It has been observed that lack of empirical studies in tourism marketing particularly relating to events has not been helpful in generating a general understanding about the logical relationship between marketing and tourism.” As pointed out earlier, the literature is dominated by the supply side of tourism marketing. Very little is known about the behavior of tourists in interaction with the events designed as a strategic tool for tourism marketing in the UAE. This study, therefore, seeks to generate some useful knowledge by focusing on the demand side of festival tourism in the UAE. The following section presents some reflections on tourism policies and activities in the UM. The penultimate section discusses the research method and survey results. The final section highlights the sonic implications of this study for policy.

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