Dubai Tourism is billing the emirate as an ‘affordable luxury’ destination and targeting family bookings in its latest UK marketing surge.

Speaking to media at the Sky Garden on top of London’s ‘walkie talkie’ building, chief executive officer Issam Kazim said the rise in experiential tourism had led the tourism authority to think further than the sky scrapers and bright lights of the big city.

He told the room that family holidays were one of Dubai Tourism’s key focuses, and mentioned camping options in the nearby hills, traditional gastronomy and soft adventure activities like trekking and mountain biking as alternative pursuits.

“Everyone knows Dubai,” said Kazim. “But there’s so much that tourists don’t know about the culture. It’s almost as if we are going back in time to promote the future of Dubai. Family tourism is a big part of our offering and something we are now focussing on. But family holidays have a broad spectrum, including couples, honeymoons, families with kids, and parents visiting their adult children who work in Dubai.”

And although Kazim said it was “too early” to discuss the success of the Dubai Parks and Resorts theme parks, which opened in late 2016, he said they were hopeful the 100+ attractions at the 25 million sq-ft space – which includes three parks – will have a continued positive effect on family arrivals.

Dubai continues to aim for its target of attracting 20 million visitors a year by 2020, and Dubai Tourism believes repeat visitors will play a crucial role in boosting that number.

Kazim pointed out that 262 of Dubai’s 676 hotel and apartment complexes were three star, more than the 134 four star and 102 five star options combined.

He said: “Dubai has a five star luxury offering, which is widely known, but it can be affordable too. At the same time, we have to make sure that they offer the same level of customer service.

“Dubai is so well-versed in customer service that you will find you get the same level whether it’s at your hotel, from your taxi driver, or at a restaurant,” Kazim added.

Visitor numbers from the UK to Dubai have risen 4% in the first half of the year, between January and June, compared the same period of 2016. That means the UK maintains its place as the third largest market for the emirate with 629,000 travellers going to the emirate in those six months.

Visitor numbers to Dubai reached 8.06 million for the first six months of the year, the tourism authority announced on Monday.

Kazim said that despite Dubai being a traditional winter sun destination for Brits, August 2016 saw its highest ever level of growth.

“UK families are not just coming for Christmas,” he told Travel Weekly, and advised travel agents to book out of season for the best deals.