The UAE’s hospitality sector is geared up for a record breaking year in 2021, as the country prepares itself to host one of the biggest international events in the world.
Tourism and hospitality experts painted an optimistic picture of steady recovery, from the Covid-19 pandemic, that will continue to accelerate till Dubai opens its doors for the world on October 1, 2021 for the Expo 2020 Dubai mega event.
“If, by October 2021, the global pandemic situation will have further improved, which is a realistic scenario, then Expo 2020 will be one of the first and most important events globally to reconnect the world, digitally and physically,” said Nicolas Mayer, global industry leader for Tourism & Hospitality at PwC. “Assuming that there will be a continued normalisation of the situation, then the start of Expo 2020 in October 2021 will have an additional catalyst effect, which will boost visitor arrivals to the UAE. This is particularly promising, as Expo will last six months, and thus will allow for a spreading of visitors over a larger period of time - which will allow to accommodate any social distancing requirements that will be considered necessary at that time.”
The constellation of the event is near ideal, he added. “An event spread over an extended period, over an extended area, and already supported by all those stakeholders that worked on it pre-Covid-19. I believe it will be the seminal global event to kick off the post-pandemic tourism ecosystem, especially if participating countries and organisations will present content and experiences that allow the visitors to reflect on the shape of our world and their lives in the post pandemic world.”
“Over the past few months officials have underscored the importance tourism plays in the UAE economy’s growth and recovery and the efforts to support us have been tremendous,” added Tim Cordon, area senior vice president for the Middle East & Africa region at Radisson. “The UAE has been benefitting from local demand over the past months and the ongoing efforts of the country and its leaders have led to an international boost throughout the festive season. Looking at 2021, the Expo Dubai, which will start in October 2021 and go on till March 2022, carries great potential for the market and will hopefully attract both, travellers from the Middle East and internationally.”
According to the TopHotelProjects construction database, 2021 is off to an exciting start with 434 hotel projects and 81,792 rooms scheduled to come online in January globally. Europe takes the lead on a region-by-region basis with 185 hotels and 31,814 rooms; followed by North America with 136 new properties and 23,742 keys. The Middle East has 22 projects and 6,401 keys scheduled to bolster its hotel portfolio. Dubai is among the top five cities for hotel market growth, with six projects planned for this month.
Tim Cordon noted that there will undoubtedly be many changes that the hospitality sector will have to become accustomed to. The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way consumers look at their travel plans, and there are uncertainties over when to travel, where to travel, or how long to travel.
“Our aim is to offer as much flexibility and planning comfort as possible. We therefore mitigate this with flexible cancellation and re-booking policies and ensure that we have the right procedures in place in order for our guests to feel at ease. On the other hand, we are ensuring that we elevate our promise, by maintaining and enhancing hygiene standards globally. The post-Covid-19 era will put a major emphasis on cleanliness and safety. I believe there is a real opportunity for brands to stand by and clearly communicate their brand values and positioning to consumers. Consumers need to believe in your brand, in your health and safety commitment and that you will deliver on your promises,” he said.
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