The upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai event will play a major role in accelerating the recovery of the UAE’s travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors from the Covid-19 pandemic, experts said at Arabian Travel Market (ATM 2021) exhibition.
Speaking to Khaleej Times at the event, several experts pointed out that 2021 will continue to be a challenging year for several of the UAE’s key sectors, but that recovery was on the cards and that the mega event would be a key factor is aiding this recovery. The also pointed out that the UAE’s tourism and hospitality sector is marching ahead and showcasing solid growth trajectory, supported by the ambitious economic diversification roadmaps outlined by governments such as the UAE’s Vision 2021 which will strengthen the UAE as a global tourism hub and position it as the number one tourism destination worldwide.
Stijn Bastiaens, VP and commercial director for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey regions at Hilton, said that there was already a strong demand for travel and hospitality being observed for the second half of this year, which will coincide with the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai in October.
“There is an enormous amount of pent-up demand because a lot of people are itching to travel,” he said. “What gives me optimism is the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai event, which comes exactly at the right time for the travel and tourism industry. We see that international markets are slowly recovering and getting there when it comes to reopening especially the UK, Turkey, and KSA; and more will come over the next few weeks and as we get closer to the event.”
Similarly, Rotana president and CEO, Guy Hutchinson, said that the pent-up demand would translate into impressive numbers closer to the event.
“Rotana already has a significant presence in Dubai, and strengthening our portfolio with additional properties will allow us to further contribute to and capitalize on the UAE’s ever-expanding tourism and hospitality sector. Our upcoming properties will go a long way towards meeting the pent-up demand anticipated during and beyond Expo 2020 this year, and will help ramp up overall room capacity which is crucial in achieving the city’s ambitious tourism vision,” he said.
Mark Kirby, head of Hospitality, Emaar Hospitality Group, said that the UAE’s hospitality brands will have a key role to play once the UAE starts welcoming visitors for the event.
“We are very excited about Expo 2020 Dubai because we are the official hospitality partner for the event, as well as the only authorised ticket resellers,” he said. “We have been working very carefully and diligently with the Expo team over the past few years. The event is going to give us extra support and drive numbers into Dubai. We are also the only hospitality partner that has a hotel within the Expo site, which is the Rove Expo 2020. This will bring us solid revenues and opportunities for the Rove brand. With visitor numbers coming into Dubai for the event, I think that we are going to have ourselves a very good last quarter.”
Expo 2020 Dubai officials at ATM also shared several updates regarding the event. They announced that Expo 2020 has doubled the number of Authorised Ticket Resellers (ATRs) for Expo 2020 Dubai, with more than 2,500 online travel agents, tour operators, hotel groups and airlines having signed on to date. The ATRs represent more than 100 countries, covering all key markets, which will ensure that visitors of all ages, nationalities and interests can make the most of their visit to Expo 2020 Dubai with value-added travel packages.
With less than five months to go until Expo 2020 opens its doors, safety has been a top priority for Expo’s local team and global partners. Thermal cameras and sanitisation stations, as well as mandatory face-mask wearing, stringent social distancing regulations, and free vaccinations are some of the major safety initiatives being implemented. The measures also include virtual inspections of workforce accommodation and the offer of the Covid-19 vaccine to all employees and their households. In April, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, had announced that Expo’s vaccination programme would be extended to all official representatives of the countries taking part in Expo 2020.
Helal Saeed Al Marri, director general, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said: “Since the beginning, Dubai has shown remarkable resilience in dealing with the pandemic. Taking decisive action at the right time, using all the data available to us as a smart city to make decisions, and opening the economy sector by sector, with the right precautions being taken at each stage, has enabled the gradual recovery of the travel and tourism industry and allowed the city to open its borders to both domestic and international travel. With the number of Covid-19 cases stabilising, due to high vaccination rates and some of the highest testing rates in the world, we can expect to see further easing of restrictions in Dubai in the near future.”
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