A plan to develop a local timeshare market in Dubai will help broaden the tourism sector by offering holidaymakers more options for affordable accommodation, industry experts have said.
The initiative, which was unveiled by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in Dubai on Saturday, is designed to woo more tourists to the emirate.
It aims to list 500 to 1,000 timeshare properties, but is unlikely to be run under the traditional timeshare model that had its heyday in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, experts said. In that arrangement, which many now see as outdated, numerous people purchased a stake in the same property, and each ‘owner’ would stay in it for around a week annually.
Dubai’s version of the timeshare would be much more akin to an Airbnb-type arrangement, where people would be able to book short stays in a property with one owner on an ad hoc basis, said the experts.
That used to be illegal until a new system made to make it possible to let their property for less than a year in 2017.
"What you were not able to do before is rent [our property out] for less than a year. What they are now saying is you can rent it for a day or a week, or a month, or whatever," said Craig Plumb, head of research at JLL Mena.
“This is probably the next step in that direction."
It will inevitably create more competition for the hotel industry, but it was a positive move overall, added Mr Plumb.
Mario Volpi, sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers said home owners and tenants would also benefit.
"The properties are lying empty, in some cases for at least a month or maybe longer with the school kids being off, so why not earn something," he said.
In addition, Dubai requires more hotel rooms in the run up to the Expo, so it would be a welcome addition to the market tourism sector.
“The concept of Airbnb is fantastic, so personally I feel it’s a great initiative that will open Dubai up to a different type of tourist. We have too many four and five star hotels.
“I don’t think we have enough budget hotels, because Dubai is marketed as a five-star city so this might open up to a different type of tourist,” said Mr Volpi.
A local short stay timeshare market would be particularly helpful in encouraging more stop-off passengers to spend longer in Dubai – particularly people seeking more affordable accommodation and those travelling with children, said Mr Plumb.
“If you are travelling with a family you might need two or three rooms,” said Mr Plumb.
“And then it boils down to price at the end of the day. You would probably prefer to stay in an apartment with the kids.”
He said he expected more emirates to follow suit with a similar system in due course.
“Although they don’t have the same number of transit passengers, so Dubai is the obvious place to do this,” said Mr Plumb.