Butlers Destination Life Cycle Model for Dubai

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Bierman defines a destination as a “country, state, region, city or a town, which is marketed or markets itself as a place for tourists to visit”.The Butlers destination life cycle is a 6-step model which most tourist destinations go through, starting from a small scale to a higher scale until they reach stagnation, leading to either success or failure. The 6 steps are: Exploration, Involvement, Development, Consolidation, Stagnation and Decline/Rejuvenation;Exploration – initially you get a small number of tourists attracted to something, such as beaches, attractive landscapes, historical or cultural features. The locals who live there haven’t developed many tourist facilities at the moment.Involvement – The local people in the area start to see opportunities available and provide accommodation, food, transport, guides and other services which tourists may use.Development - Large companies begin building hotels and leisure facilities and now advertise holiday packages. This results in tourist numbers rising drastically. Also, job opportunities increase which can result in advantages and disadvantages such as locals may be able to find employment, but the large companies may bring staff from abroad, therefore the locals won’t benefit from the employment opportunities. Additionally, a lot of taxes will be paid to the local government, increasing local economy.

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Consolidation – tourism is now a major part of the local economy although this might be a disadvantage to other local developments. The number of visitors is steady, and employment has become secure, however, some developments are becoming degraded or worst-case scenario buildings become dilapidated, so the type of customers goes downmarket; the price of facilities, food and alcohol decreases, making them more accessible and possibly causing disorder.

Stagnation – The destination becomes unsought for, so the number of visitors declines. A natural environment may be hard to find as tourist developments have eradicated it and word of mouth will cause potential new tourists to choose a different destination, leading to economic decline and developments for tourists are under-utilised, eventually leading to some companies closing down and unemployment becoming an issue again.

Decline or rejuvenation Decline - Companies are starting to be unable to compete with other tourist resorts and businesses and tourists who came to stay a week or longer are replaced by visitors who come for a day or a weekend at most and they become the main source of income. Furthermore, tourism facilities begin to be replaced by non-tourism facilities which are more suitable for locals such as hotels which can be converted to residences for locals. Lastly, it is possible that the area could exit the tourism market entirely and the developments which have taken over the area for tourists will become a “tourism slum”.

Rejuvenation - Attempts are made to modernise the resort and attract different people by either finding solutions to restore them by implementing more sustainable ideas which might be more harmonious with the local environment. The rejuvenation of a touristic business with new ideas will create a new interest which will attract new and old visitors, creating once again job opportunities for local and foreign people and local economy will be eventually restored.

ExplorationIn 1966, oil was discovered. Before this, Dubai as a city didn’t exist and was only water and desert. Members of the Bani Yas Tribe, settled at the mouth at the creek which slowly became a natural harbour and people would come for fishing and sea trading. By the 20th century Dubai was a successful port and a market was created on the Deira side of the creek with over 300 shops which brought visitors and businessmen and a population of approximately 20,000. When oil was discovered, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum used the oil revenues to develop infrastructure in Dubai such as schools, roads, hospitals, a telecommunications network and more. Additionally, a terminal building was built at the Dubai International Airport as well as a runway extension which could accommodate any type of aircraft. Port of Jebel Ali was built, which is the largest man made harbour in the world with a free-trade zone around the port.Source: Dubai government portal, “Dubai History”.


Today, Dubai is known as a luxurious destination, known for its shopping malls, extravagant hotels and attractions. Infrastructure dedicated to tourists were built with the aim of also attracting tourists such as the Burj Al Arab hotel which is the world’s only 7-star hotel and it is the third tallest hotel in the world. The Burj Khalifa was completed in 2009 and is the tallest sky scraper in the world and a main tourist attraction in Dubai. The Jumeirah Emirates towers hotel is a symbol and reminder of the boasting business in Dubai which is growing every day. Additionally, the office tower is the highest building in the Middle east and Europe as well. Furthermore, as Gulf Air reduced its trips to Dubai, the Emirates airline was founded in 1985 by the royal family with all revenue going to the royal family/Dubai increasing the local economy as Emirates airline became more and more successful. This also means that the number of tourists and business visits has increased as they have easy transport routes.


Around 2009, it was thought that Dubai would be slowly declining and the future was unknown. Alex Kyriakidis, a managing partner for travel and tourism in the Middle East at Deloitte, said in a interview at the time (2009) “Until the third quarter of last year, Dubai had the highest RevPAR (revenue per available hotel room) in the world. In the downturn, Dubai is feeling the pain of its feeder markets feeling the pain. Dubai has suffered a double whammy. People are not travelling because they are concerned about their jobs and, at the same time, the pound has crashed against the dirham.”. Performance numbers from a report issued by Deloitte showed that occupancy has declined by 16% to 72% I in that year to April. To cope with this decline, hotels responded by reducing their costs meaning there’s was a drop of 34.5% in revenue per available room although not all hotels were affected such as beach hotels which were performing well in comparison. It was concluded that tourists were remaining for fewer days and they were also spending less money as well.

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