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The Growth of the Theme Parks Market in the UAE Essay

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Updated: Aug 5th, 2022

Theme parks have emerged as one of the most crucial factors for boosting tourism. To capitalize on this development, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been exploring opportunities to create one of the largest hubs for this type of entertainment. Bhavani and Khan (2020) state that “accessibility was one of the main drivers for UAE theme park development” (p. 3). By exploiting its growing number of international travelers, the UAE was provided with many opportunities to expand its tourism sector (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). Theme parks rely heavily on local infrastructures, such as hotels, shopping malls, and public transport, which were already present in Dubai by the time the major projects began to take shape (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). Thus, the success of this initiative was partially related to the fulfilled preconditions due to Dubai’s role in international travel and tourism.

The government played a vital role in the success of the theme parks in the UAE. Yas et al. (2020) state that “the government of Dubai has planned to maximize and maintain the circulation of foreign investment through tourism” (p. 601). This initiative provided new investors with an incentive to put their capital into local businesses, and the rapidly expanding tourism industry provided an excellent opportunity for it. The UAE government also implemented policies that directed the stream of business visitors into the local entertainment facilities by providing free transit visas (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). This growth of theme parks continues to provide a significant source of investment and boosts the country’s economy.

Challenges of IMG Worlds of Adventure

Despite all the efforts put into this industry, there are significant challenges companies have to resolve to become profitable. The market for entertainment of this type is highly competitive, as its nature involves worldwide competition, and some of the competitors, such as Orlando theme parks, are difficult to outperform (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). IMG Worlds of Adventure, one of the largest indoor theme parks, has been opened in 2016 and, since then, constantly aims to reach new heights in both revenue and the number of annual visitors (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). As the company was unable to attain the impressive goals it has set for itself, IMG WoA continues to actively develop new competitive strategies.

The theme parks market is a major industry with numerous highly competitive players across the globe. Bodolica et al. (2020) state that “China is considered as a major UAE competitor in the hospitality industry” with the current growth rates exceeding other countries (p. 329). IMG’s competitiveness is also impaired by the weather in its location (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). Even without counting theme parks in the United States, China, and Japan, IMG WoA was met with significant competition with other similar facilities in the UAE (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). Therefore, the company must establish its presence in both local and global markets to reach the success it wants.

The recent COVID-19 outbreak destabilized many markets, especially ones that relied on international transportation or provided non-essential services. As amusement parks fit into both categories, this market has been suffering one of the most significant recessions among similar industries (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). Moreover, the quarantine has changed people’s perception of traveling and tourism, are will continue to have an adverse impact on theme parks (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). IMD WoA must find a way to change this perception and assure its potential visitors that their health is not put at any risk.

Effectiveness of the Survival Strategies

IMG WoA continues to invent new ways to remain on course with its goal. Its strategy shows adaptiveness and flexibility, as the company is not afraid of taking risks and making bold moves. For example, its celebration of Chinese New Year in 2020 has brought significant attention to the theme park (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). Innovative strategies and technologies are a primary driver for IMG on its way to become the top theme park in the world, yet some experiments are expected to fail.

IMG has created multiple promotions to attract additional customers. Realizing the value from business travelers, it partnered with Western Union and numerous local hotels to provide the most convenient experience for its customers (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). However, its promotion “Fly free with IMG” resulted in a failure due to the complexity of conditions to receive the prize (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). While there were failures, it is essential for IMG WoA to continue its search for new sources of attraction.

The partnership is one of the methods that does not only provide new opportunities for the company but also increases its stability. For example, when the company has suffered financial losses from the COVID-19 lockdown, it put a significant effort into ensuring the safety of its customers and partnered with a major healthcare provider (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). The company was then able to resume operations within just four months of closure, while many other similar theme parks remained in quarantine (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). This rapid assessment and response to the situation by utilizing a partnership show that preparedness is the key to IMG success.

Recommendations

As the company strives to become the largest theme park across the globe and heavily relies on foreign visitors, it is crucial for IMG WoA to consider the expansion of its culturally specific events. The firm has already explored this possibility with the Chinese New Year 2020, which brought an influx of Chinese visitors (Bhavani & Khan, 2020). As the location of the facility provides an ideal place for mixing cultures, it is advised for IMD to continue conducting culture-specific events.

Moreover, other seasonal events similar to this one can provide an incentive for past customers to consider revisiting the theme park. Nowadays, the evolution of consumer demands takes a faster pace, and new experience is the key factor for tourism (Bodolica et al., 2020). As the company plans to attract a record number of tourists to its location annually, it must create a reason for old customers to consider paying another visit.

Although the UAE is already considered an international tourism hub, there are issues related to the country’s climate that lower the number of visitors due to harsh summers. To negate this factor, IMG can consider the construction of hotels specifically for its visitors. Moreover, the country’s infrastructure plays a vital role in the success of its tourism (Yas et al., 2020). The company can invest in local public transport and facilities to make the location more attractive. Other additions to the infrastructure of the site can be beneficial as well, such as sports complexes. This goal can further increase the competitiveness of the company.

References

Bhavani, G., & Khan, S. (2020). ‘IMG Worlds of Adventure’: Survival challenges in the UAE. The Case Centre.

Bodolica, V., Spraggon, M., & Saleh, N. (2020). International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management, 13(2), 323-337. Web.

Yas, H., Mardani, A., Albayati, Y. K., Lootah, S. E., & Streimikiene, D. (2020). The positive role of the tourism industry for Dubai city in the United Arab Emirates. Contemporary Economics, 14(4), 601-616.

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