If Dubai’s Expo 2020 is going to be a success then the hospitality industry has to show that the city has much more to offer than two- or three-day experiences.
This was the message from Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) CEO Issam Kazim during his keynote speech at Hotel News Middle East’s GM Leaders Conference presented by Rikan, which took place on Wednesday, 3 May, at The W Dubai.
“A lot of people are aware of the landmark projects in Dubai but over the years people have not realised there is a depth to Dubai’s offering as well,” he said.
“We are emphasising the cultural and heritage side of Dubai. We have to make people realise that Dubai is well beyond a two- or three-day destination. We know that a lot of people come to Dubai for the first time because they are sent by their company for an exhibition and they don’t know what to expect.”
He said the key is to make sure business travellers come back again and extend their stays for the next business visit or with their family and friends. Kazim said that if visitors have enjoyable stays, full of different activities, it will lead to much more positive word of mouth.
He highlighted the restaurants, souks and abras as examples of the experiences that Dubai offers. The challenge, Kazim said, is to position Dubai to different markets with different needs.
Expo 2020 is a means to an end to making Dubai the number one global family destination, said Kazim.
“We were number seven in 2013 when we first started to monitor our progress. We jumped to number five the year after and then have stayed at number four after that,” he said.
Dubai welcomed 14.9 million tourists last year, with Paris’ figure of just over 18 million, the next target for the emirate.
“It is a considerable jump so we need to show that we are pushing to achieve those numbers,” he said.
“We need to make Dubai more accessible and to do that we announced 13 countries from Europe that can arrive here without a visa and last year we added China to that list and have since announced Russia as well.”
He described the Russian and Chinese markets as showing significant growth, which validates these moves.
The GM Leaders Conference was presented by Rikan and supported by Platinum Sponsor, Du; Luxury Fleet Partner, Cadillac; Hotel of Choice, W Dubai Al Habtoor City; Associate Sponsor TSSC; Lunch Sponsor ResNet; Pulsar Foodstuff Trading and The Gourmet Olive Market, TCL, Lavazza-Eurocoffee, EP World, Electrolux, Assa Abloy and Isukoshi.