One year into the delivery of Dubai’s ‘Tourism Vision for 2020’, significant first steps have been taken to achieve the target of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, leading the emirate’s tourism authority to state a new ambition: for Dubai to become the world’s most visited city.
If a growth rate similar to that achieved in 2013 is maintained – a 10.6 per cent year-on-year increase equating to 11 million hotel guests – Dubai will achieve its Tourism Vision target and with London currently holding the title of world’s most visited city (16 million tourists in 2013), the emirate is using its participation in the 2014 edition of Arabian Travel Market to outline why the number one ranking is an ambitious, but realistic, goal.
Having announced the Tourism Vision for 2020 at last year’s edition of Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) will discuss the achievements made over the last 12 months based on the collective commitment from industry stakeholders to sector growth and development; demonstrate the continual enhancements and evolution of the city’s destination offering; and preview a new marketing blueprint designed to further raise the emirate’s international profile.
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“Since His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, announced the Tourism Vision for 2020 at last year’s ATM, the UAE has won the right to host Expo 2020 in Dubai; the first phase of our second international airport has opened at Dubai World Central and a substantial number of new hotels, attractions and events have opened, taken place or been announced,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai’s DTCM, speaking ahead of the ATM.
“Further, in addition to UAE federal pre-entry visa regulations on European Union member states being lifted, major legislative changes have been made which will directly and positively impact the tourism sector and enable us to attract more business and leisure travellers,” he said.
“The Tourism Vision for 2020 is a framework which gives all of us in the tourism industry a clear and collective focus. The Vision has been embraced to its fullest by both governmental departments and the private sector – and this first year is just the beginning. During this year’s Arabian Travel Market (May 5-8), the Dubai presence and the exhibits and announcements of our stakeholders will demonstrate that while the city is already seen as a must-visit destination, a continuous drive to innovate will lead to a constant reinvention of the visitor experience, creating one that is unrivalled anywhere else in the world,” Almarri said.
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“It is this collective industry commitment that makes us confident that we will be able to achieve our targets of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, and inspires the ambition to eventually become the world’s most visited city,” he added.
“The pursuit of this ambition means that for the tourist the destination is constantly being enhanced with more attractions, more events, more hotels, world-leading infrastructure and services and a holiday experience which delivers beyond expectations – whether the tourist is visiting for the first time or is a repeat guest.”
New Marketing Blueprint
With Dubai being named as a top destination to visit during 2014 by both the New York Times and the Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice Award, a key focus of the past year for DTCM has been the creation of a new marketing blueprint that will ensure this status is enhanced and that the rate of growth in guests continues its strong trajectory. The approach is based on research into the needs, requirements and wants of leisure and business travellers and a comprehensive review of both how the emirate’s destination offering compares to other leading global cities and how this offering is communicated.
Discussing the new approach, Issam Kazim, CEO of the newly formed Dubai Corporation of Tourism and Commerce and Marketing, commented: “Leisure travellers are increasingly seeking holiday destinations that provide a variety of distinctive, enriching and exceptional experiences. Across every component of Dubai’s offering we will continue to ensure that we provide this and that we communicate it throughout all of our marketing activities.
“Due to our landmark projects and unprecedented developments, Dubai is known around the world as a ‘must-see’ city. One of our objectives is to adapt this narrative so it becomes known as a city that ‘must-be-experienced’ – it’s a subtle shift but one that supports the reality of what the destination has offer: a breadth and depth of remarkable experiences that deliver beyond the expected.
“For example, shopping has always been a key draw for visitors but the differentiating factor of our shopping offer compared to that of other destinations is not just that Dubai has one of the widest selections of retail brands in the world – it is the experience of shopping in Dubai for those brands. Where else in the world can you take a break from shopping to ski down an indoor mountain or swim with sharks? Our malls are destinations in their own right and when you combine this with the offers and events of the shopping festivals, shopping in the souks and in the growing selection of independent boutiques throughout the city, the experience is unrivalled. We need to ensure we are communicating this effectively and work with our partners to continue to enhance that experience.
“To give another example, the range of activities that a visitor can do in one day in Dubai is unparalleled. A tourist can be skydiving over The Palm Jumeirah in the morning; exploring the alleyways and souks around Dubai Creek in the afternoon; and then taking a desert safari adventure in the evening. Across gastronomy, family entertainment, events, arts and heritage, and beaches and water-sports – not to mention our hotels, with regards to the range on offer, the hospitality and the facilities within them – the experience is extraordinary. This is what sets Dubai apart and what we must ensure every potential tourist knows about our city.”
The new marketing approach will be shared with the travel trade industry during Arabian Travel Market, including a preview of a new digital ecosystem that will be launched later this year. This is comprised of a website, app and social media platforms which have been designed to attract and inform visitors and help them plan their trip and experience the city during their visit.
Issam Kazim commented: “Increased investment and focus in digital is a key element of our marketing of Dubai and a priority has been to ensure that we can speak more personally to each visitor at every stage of their traveller journey – from before they even consider Dubai as a destination, to when they are planning their trip; experiencing the city; and after they have returned home. Our new digital platforms will provide the opportunity for us to do this and, combined with the evolution of how we talk about Dubai and its offering, will deliver the message that this is a destination which must be experienced – and then help ensure that each visitor has an experience that is beyond expectation.”