Green shoots of revival bloom as Dubai sees tourism rebound - GulfToday

Green shoots of revival bloom as Dubai sees tourism rebound


Dubai’s image as one of the safest destinations in the world is a key driver of the increasing momentum for recovery. WAM

Dubai’s tourism and hospitality sectors are benefitting from a rapid rebound driven by a multi-phase roadmap being executed by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).

“Dubai continues to take effective steps under the guidance of the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai to build on the strategic initiative to reopen the city to tourists on 7th July. Since then, we have been greatly encouraged by the market’s response in the current second phase of our recovery strategy, which was activated along with the gradual resumption of economic sectors, as well as the staggered and tentative restart of travel across the world,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai Tourism.

“We have received considerable interest from international markets, particularly Europe and Russia,” said Jose Silva, CEO of Dubai-based Jumeirah. “In the first week following the reopening to international tourists, online bookings for planned stays on Jumeirah’s website doubled from the previous week while its properties registered an average daily increase of 109 per cent in booked room nights.”

Bookings being received by Emirates and flydubai airlines are also showing positive signs for the tourism sector. Emirates will be operating to a total of 70 destinations across six continents in August, while flydubai is set to expand its network to 66 destinations over the summer.

Improving global market sentiment and the perception of Dubai as one of the safest destinations in the world are key drivers of the increasing momentum for recovery. “People are much more optimistic and well informed now and are ready to go on holidays to destinations that are safe and have put in place strong health and safety protocols,” said Al Almarri.

However, at the height of the global COVID-19 crisis, the mood was circumspect. The international tourism industry bore the brunt of worldwide restrictions in domestic and cross-border mobility. According to the World Tourism Organisation, UNWTO, the COVID-19 pandemic could cost global tourism and related sectors between $1.2 and $3.3 trillion in lost revenue depending on the timing of recovery.

For Dubai however, the peak of the crisis was a time to explore a strategic reset. During what Almarri calls the ‘pause phase’, the focus was on planning and repositioning. Tourism authorities worked to create a framework for meeting tourist expectations once restrictions would be removed.

 “We rethought business strategies and plans working closely with stakeholders and partners to develop innovative initiatives to manage the ‘new normal’. In cooperation with key authorities, we mapped out stringent health protocols and precautionary measures that would reassure even the most demanding safety-conscious tourists,” the head of Dubai Tourism said.

Rekindling the domestic tourism market was a key element of the recovery plan. Since opening for domestic tourism in May, Dubai saw strong pick up in numbers with hotels creating offerings to meet pent-up demand for staycations.

“The domestic market has proven extremely important and we are seeing increased demand at Jumeirah properties, particularly over the weekends. Dedicated staycation offers are helping to drive ongoing interest together with the introduction of new dining concepts to enhance the experience,” said Jose Silva, CEO of Jumeirah Group.

 “The UAE and Dubai were decisive, strategic and methodical in tackling the pandemic. We are grateful to the federal and local governments for their comprehensive measures, which prepared the ground for the revival of tourism and other sectors,’’ said Almarri.

“We also remain optimistic due to the pivotal role being played by our key partners like Emirates and flydubai in facilitating tourism growth through a wide range of measures designed to instill confidence among travellers and encourage them to make the city their destination of choice. As we continuously assess the current situation and take steps to consolidate the industry revival that is underway, we expect to see good progress in the last quarter of 2020 based on strong growth strategies that we have adopted to accelerate momentum ahead of the full reopening of the sector,” added Almarri. In the run-up to the city’s reopening to foreign tourists, Dubai left no stone unturned to assure tourists of a smooth and safe experience at every stage of their travel journey, from arrival at airports to the point of departure from Dubai. “We knew that most travellers will look at the type of healthcare services and processes in place before selecting a holiday destination. We put in place a zero-tolerance approach in the management of health and safety protocols at hotels, retail outlets and tourist attractions with regular monitoring to ensure compliance,” said Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, DCTCM.

“We are fortunate that Dubai has mature tourism, hospitality and retail sectors. Establishments truly understand that maintaining high health and safety standards are critical to the success of their own business as we work to meet the demands of the new norm,” he noted. Jumeirah believes that the certified health and safety measures it put in place were some of the key factors in the growth in bookings.

With numbers in the initial reopening phase showing promise, Dubai hopes to maximise opportunities once the tourism sector is fully reopened, which will mark the final stage in its recovery strategy. “As a destination, Dubai is always prepared to evolve in the face of global challenges. We expect to see significant progress and are looking forward to galvanising growth as confidence builds further in the months ahead,” Kazim said.


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