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Dubai's tourism and hospitality sectors see rebound

Rohma Sadaqat /Dubai Filed on August 10, 2020
Rekindling the domestic tourism market has also been a key element of Dubai's recovery plan.


Dubai's tourism and hospitality sectors are slowly but surely making their way into a rebound, driven by various hotels and a host of initiatives that are designed to appeal to both residents and tourists.

"With the UAE successfully showcasing itself as a safe destination in the world, and Emirates Airline ramping up it's network, tourism is witnessing green shoots," said Avinash Adnani, managing director of Pluto Travel. "We are getting queries from faraway destinations such as Canada, and the US about potential travellers. Dubai is emerging as one of the top attractions as the world tries to get back to normalcy."

Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism, said that Dubai Tourism has been "greatly encouraged" by the market's response to the strategic initiative to reopen Dubai to tourists on July 7.

"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," he said. "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."

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Covid-19 pandemic could cost the global tourism industry and related sectors between up to $3.3 trillion in lost revenue depending on the timing of recovery.

Dubai, however, has positioned itself to be leader during the recovery period, with its airline and hotel industry actively looking into ways to welcome both tourists and residents.

Bookings received by Emirates Airline and flydubai have already started 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.

Alex Alt, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Hospitality, noted that safety rightly remains consumers' top priority when they consider traveling "As the hospitality industry turns a corner on the road to recovery, technology will be critical to protecting travelers and workers alike. The hospitality industry is doubling down on technology to facilitate social distancing and reduce face to face interaction for guests' protection."

In the run-up to the city's reopening to foreign tourists, experts said that 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.

Rekindling the domestic tourism market has also been 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. From an early stage, beach properties registered occupancy rates of above 80 per cent over the weekend. Today, hotels are continuing to offer a range of staycation deals to UAE residents ranging from discounts on room rates and F&B to family entertainment offerings.

"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."

"The domestic market has also proven to be extremely important, and we are seeing increased demand at Jumeirah properties, particularly over the weekends," he added. "Dedicated staycation offers are helping to drive ongoing interest together with the introduction of new dining concepts to enhance the experience."


Rohma Sadaqat

I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.

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