Setting an ambitious but realistic tourism target, Dubai on Saturday unveiled its grand vision that seeks to draw 20 million visitors per year and Dh300 billion in annual revenues by 2020. His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, approved the roadmap that envisions to treble the annual contribution made by tourism to the emirate’s economy to Dh300 billion while recording a two-fold increase in tourist arrivals, compared to the tourist traffic of 10 million in 2012.
Shaikh Mohammed said the UAE has positioned itself among the most popular tourist destinations on the planet as it presses ahead by launching ambitious developmental initiatives and high quality projects. He noted that building a robust infrastructure with high capacity while providing quality high-end services to all the visitors of the UAE is an ongoing process that required the country to keep up the pace of development.
“We are aware that such goals are ambitious, but more important than ambition is realising these goals in reality,” Shaikh Mohammed said. He said he was confident that the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) is capable of achieving Dubai’s new Tourism Vision for 2020, given its track record of accomplishments and positive results.
“However, we need to bear in mind that tourism is a broad service sector and that one entity cannot be solely held responsible for its development. It is important that other government departments and institutions share this responsibility and join in developing this sector in order to strengthen our macroeconomic capabilities,” Shaikh Mohammed said. The UAE Vice-President urged the private sector to play a similar role in achieving the goal within the framework of a partnership that was established decades ago. “This partnership between the government and private sector is a source of our pride and we will do all what it takes to make it a success,” said Shaikh Mohammed.
Stressing the economic significance of the tourism sector, Shaikh Mohammed said the country is pinning its hopes on it and urged mobilisation of all resources to reinforce the position of the UAE at the forefront of regional and global tourism.
Shaikh Mohammed noted that Dubai’s reputation as a sought-after global tourism destination is fast growing. “In fact, the increased number of visitors is a strong evidence to this as Dubai was able to double the number of tourists from just five million per annum to 10 million tourists over the past eight years.”
He said he firmly believed in Dubai’s ability to draw substantially higher tourist traffic as the emirate implements a whole range of new projects that will add new elements of attraction and facilitate the arrival of larger numbers of visitors into the country.
Developed by the DTCM, the vision sets out how the city will both double its annual visitor numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million in 2020, and increase the economic contribution of the tourism sector. Early estimates from a study currently being conducted indicate that the current economic contribution is in the range of Dh100 billion.
“The strategy behind Dubai Tourism Vision 2020 is to further leverage a sector which has been a central pillar in the city’s economic growth, success and diversification,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of the DTCM.
He said the strategy is based upon two central tenets. “The first is to widen our range of tourism offerings across events, attractions, infrastructure, services and packages and to enhance the overall visitor experience from arrival to departure. The second tenet is to adapt our marketing approach in order to showcase Dubai to a wider audience and grow the conversion rate of awareness to bookings.”
Almarri said there is a range of initiatives that would be put in place in both of these areas to attract more visitors to the city and encourage them to stay longer and spend more during their stay here.
“Our role at the DTCM is to act as a facilitator of growth, harnessing the collective power of stakeholders in the city and deepening engagement with parties outside of Dubai, so that we deliver the vision,” said Almarri.
He explained that the target of 20 million visitors would be achieved through meeting a number of objectives. “First, maintaining existing market share of tourism from all source markets: economic and demographic factors will increase the amount of outbound tourists in each market. Therefore, maintaining Dubai’s existing market share will result in an up-tick in visitor numbers. Second, increasing awareness about Dubai’s attractions in all key source markets that the DTCM has identified as having significant potential for growth. These include Latin America, China and the emerging economies of Africa. Third, increasing the number of repeat visits, already a significant driver for tourism in the city.”
“Meeting these objectives in addition to driving up the average length of stay (currently at 3.76 days) and increasing the amount of money spent by tourists during their visits will lead to the trebling of the economic contribution that tourism makes to the emirate’s Gross Domestic Product,” he said.
Almarri said: “The vision of His Highness has created a destination with experiences that no other city can offer. We have a number of attractions that are famous throughout the world including the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab and The Palm Jumeirah; the world’s largest shopping malls; and an incredible infrastructure which acts as a magnet for global travellers.”
He said the city has a portfolio of world class hotels, the second busiest airport on the planet and a world leading — and in my opinion, the best — airline and these are also very well known. “But in addition we have a substantial, wide-ranging and ever evolving destination offer that compliments the more renowned attractions and we will ensure that every potential visitor knows the depth and range of experiences they can enjoy on holiday in Dubai.
“As a city we have done a very good job in building awareness of Dubai. Part of our new strategy is to adapt our marketing approach to showcase Dubai to an even wider audience but also to grow the conversion rate of awareness to bookings, making sure that a potential visitor doesn’t just know about Dubai, but views it as his next holiday or business destination,” said Almarri.
To widen the range of tourism offerings, Dubai will have three key areas of focus — as the world’s leading family destination, as an event destination, and as a business destination.
“We see no distinction between the business traveller and the leisure visitor. Today’s conference delegate is tomorrow’s holidaymaker and there are a number of steps we can take to encourage the business travellers to extend their stay or return for leisure trips with friends and family,” said Almarri.