• Department shares positive industry outlook at first bi-annual ‘City Briefing’ event attended in-person by over 1,000 stakeholders and partners
  • Expo 2020 seen as global pivot to drive the future of international tourism and business

Government of Dubai Media Office: Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) held its first bi-annual ‘City Briefing’ for 2021 at the newly built Dubai Exhibition Centre, highlighting the sector’s promising performance since the reopening of the city to international tourists a year ago. As efforts intensified across the tourism ecosystem to accelerate momentum in this landmark year for Dubai and the UAE, the forum featured a detailed presentation on Expo 2020, the multi-faceted mega event which runs from 1 October, 2021 to 31 March 2022, as well as insights into domestic and global developments and marketing campaigns worldwide aimed at reinforcing Dubai’s profile as a safe, must-visit destination and the world’s best city to live and work in.

Presided by His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism, the forum hosted over 1,000 key executives from leading establishments in the hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors. It was held within the framework of Dubai Tourism’s regular dialogue with key industry leaders to exchange insights and work with them to ensure the industry is seamlessly aligned with tourism growth initiatives and strategies. By holding the forum at the Dubai Exhibition Centre with precautionary guidelines being comprehensively observed, Dubai Tourism sought to highlight the enormous significance of Expo 2020 to Dubai’s tourism industry and the gathering pace of recovery in the events sector.

HE Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism, commented: “Dubai has continued to lead global tourism recovery and has constantly set new precedents in how to safely yet effectively open internationally and critically stay open. Inspired by the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, the city’s ability and priority in effectively managing the pandemic has positioned Dubai as one of the world’s safest destinations. It has also placed us in prime position to drive growth, especially since we see Expo 2020 as a global pivot to pioneer the future of international tourism and business. The emirate’s tourism rebound in the second half of 2020, leading to industry stabilisation in 2021, is also a reflection of the crucial support extended by our stakeholders and partners. Our constant dialogue has allowed us to collectively adapt to the evolving situation and implement our post-pandemic strategy as we continuously strive to improve traveller confidence and build an even more resilient and sustainable tourism sector. As the city prepares to host the region’s first World Expo, as well as play a leading role in the UAE’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, we look forward to making significant progress in 2021 and beyond.”

Partners were briefed on the positive developments since the city reopened to tourists on 7 July 2020. Dubai Tourism data shared with participants shows the success of the city’s reopening strategy. Incremental increase in tourist arrivals month on month from markets that are open delivered 3.7 million international overnight visitors in the July 2020 - May 2021 period.  Dubai Tourism’s partners and stakeholders expressed their appreciation for the multi-pronged strategy to combat the pandemic, leading to the reopening of the city to global travellers in July 2020. 

Adnan Kazim, Emirates’ Chief Commercial Officer said: “It has been a year since Dubai opened its doors for leisure and business visitors, and we have demonstrated that international air travel and tourism can safely take place with enhanced health protocols, a focus on clear and consistent measures, and a successful vaccine rollout. Dubai’s leadership understood the critical importance of providing a road map for the safe return and revitalisation of the economy through meticulous planning, a coordinated public-private approach and strong partnerships across the travel and tourism sectors. Emirates is proud to have played its part to help reopen air travel, closely working with DTCM on health and safety measures to safeguard the wellbeing of visitors. These collective efforts and the safe and gradual restart of our network, which today stands at over 115 destinations, brought in 2 million visitors to the city on Emirates since 7 July 2020 and saw bookings growing over 30% from last year.” 

Paul Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Airports, said: “Despite the challenges during a period that was the most turbulent time in the history of international air travel, Dubai Airports retained its position as the world’s busiest international airport for the seventh consecutive year with 25.9 million passengers in 2020. After having welcomed nearly six million passengers in Q1 2021, DXB now looks set for a stable second quarter and the outlook for the second half of the year looks positive thanks to the seasonal travel rush and upcoming major international events including the Dubai Expo 2020 and the Dubai Airshow 2021. To accommodate the projected growth, we recently expanded DXB’s capacity by bringing back Terminal 1 and Concourse D into operation after 15 months of hibernation. Our initiatives were recognized by the ACI in the form of Airport Health Accreditation certification. DXB was also recently chosen as the world’s best airport by readers of the Business Traveller magazine,” Griffiths said.

Dubai Airports has taken significant steps to minimise the impact of new travel requirements on customer journeys through the airport. The operator along with the Dubai Health Authority and Pure Health recently opened a 20,000 square-feet in-house lab that can process up to 100,000 PCR samples collected from passengers at DXB daily, providing reports within a few hours.

Ahmad Al Matrooshi, Executive Board Member – Emaar Properties PJSC, said: “I would like to take the opportunity to thank DTCM for their constant support throughout this time. During the last 12 months, the government has worked tirelessly to make the city safe and comfortable for every resident and visitor. At Emaar Hospitality Group, we followed the safety guidelines at our hotels with utmost attention, inoculated over 90 percent of our team members within a short span and opened three new beach resorts, as we cater to more tourists this year. As the official hotel, hospitality and catering partner of EXPO 2020, we are looking forward to this much awaited futuristic event in October.”

Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, President, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, Hilton: “A great travel revival is underway and thanks to the vision of DTCM, Dubai has been at the forefront of this re-bound since tourism re-started almost a year ago. At Hilton, we are seeing our regular, as well as new guests return to our hotels, be it for local stays or inbound travel from new and existing markets – occupancy continues to improve, and guests are willing to pay for quality hotel experiences. I am pleased to see that many people are discovering Dubai for the first time - reassured by Dubai’s reputation as a safe, welcoming and vibrant destination. This will only set-the-stage for the launch of Expo as ‘Team Hilton’ looks forward to welcoming guests from the world over.” 

Mark Willis, CEO, India, Middle East, Africa & Turkey for Accor, said: “Undoubtedly, Dubai has been, and remains, one of the strongest markets in which we operate in the region. As a hotelier, it has been very reassuring to see how the recovery plans have been managed and implemented city wide, helping restore confidence in travellers, which has aided the recovery of the tourism sector at a faster rate. Having such clear direction and forward-thinking plans ensured that we, as part of the tourism industry, were able to plan our resources to support the reopening of the city to the best of our ability through global campaigns of our own, which strengthened the global message even further that “Dubai is open”. 

Sandeep Walia, Chief Operating Officer – Middle East, Marriott International, said: “Dubai continues to provide a safe-haven destination for its people and for travellers and has adapted quickly to change – both of which have undoubtedly helped the hospitality and travel sector begin its journey to recovery. The re-opening of the city to international tourism last July certainly brought great opportunities for the hotel industry. We know that when travel corridors are in place, and destinations are perceived as safe, people want to travel, and Dubai remains one of the safest, most sought out destinations globally.  We’ve seen our hotels in this market perform particularly well over the past year.”

David Todd, Head of Operation, MEA, IHG, said: “Dubai has built a strong perception of safe travel internationally with consistent adherence to health and safety guidelines across the travel and tourism sector. We are seeing the return of small to medium events including International conferences, for example AIBC recently held their first conference in Dubai for bitcoin & cryptocurrency investors Currency at InterContinental Dubai Festival City. Dubai remains one of the most accessible and attractive markets globally. As the excitement and momentum builds towards Dubai Expo 2020, we are expecting an incremental increase in occupancies and stronger recovery in 2022.”


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