The tourism industry is one of the leading drivers of Dubai’s economic growth and despite being buoyant and competitive, there are numerous opportunities for additional investment, especially given future growth forecasts for this important sector, a top official of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said. The director-general of Dubai Chamber Hamad Buamim said that the large numbers of tourist attractions, a diverse cultural lifestyle, world-class hotels, infrastructure and communications network as well as excellent government support are behind the success of the sector. Buamim anticipated Dubai’s visitor numbers to reach 15 million by the year 2015 which will come in the wake of combined efforts driving new growth through a number of initiatives as the hotel rooms’ capacity of the emirate is likely to increase to more than 100,000 by 2015, he said. He said that Dubai’s potential to attract conferences and business tourism because of its strategic location, thriving exhibitions sector and expansion of low-budget airlines are also factors contributing to the rise in visitor numbers in the emirate. He was speaking at latest round of CEO dialogue on Dubai’s tourism industry: achievements, strengths and future growth prospects at its premises on Monday. Attended by industry leaders and representatives of the private sector, the speakers included Gerald Lawless, president and group chief executive officer, Jumeirah Group; and Alan Leibman, chief executive officer, Kerzner International, who discussed the current opportunities, trends and economic highlights within Dubai’s tourism industry. Buamim added that the tourism sector has been consistently performing well as 10 million tourists visited Dubai during 2012 with a 9.3 per cent growth rate compared to the same period in 2011. Also, the number of guest nights recorded was 37.4 million with a 14 per cent growth rate as the revenue of hotel and hotel apartments rose by 17.9 per cent to reach Dh18.82 billion during the same period, he said. Alan Leibman said that Dubai’s strong public-private sector partnership is behind the success of the tourism sector which has shown sustainable growth in crisis situations as he further stressed that the sector’s growth has reflected positively on the emirate’s other important sectors like logistics and infrastructure. Gerald Lawless highlighted the opportunities that Dubai provided to citizens and residents while highlighting the importance of vocational training and awareness. Endorsing the success of the tourism sector to the world-class infrastructure of advanced road and metro network as well as airlines and easy visa facilities which attracted a large number of tourists to Dubai, Lawless expressed his hope that the emirate’s winning of the bid to host Expo 2020 will work wonders for its economy, particularly its tourism sector. On the question of the next big thing for Dubai, the CEO of Jumeirah Group stated that the establishment of international theme parks will sustain tourist interest and help attract more visitors from all over the world to the emirate.