| 10 December 2023, Sunday |

Tourism in Dubai is ‘back on track’, with emirate well placed to overcome challenges

Dubai’s tourism sector is “back on track,” according to the chief executive of Dubai Economy and Tourism, as the emirate continues to implement high standards of hygiene, health, and safety measures throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and the emirate is well positioned to adapt to the future of travel in the post-Covid era.

The emirate hosted six million visitors in the 11 months from January to November 2021, sold 9.4 million room nights for domestic tourists alone, and reopened 736 hotel establishments with around 135,000 rooms and occupancy levels of 60%, highlighting global demand for travel and Dubai’s role in the recovery, Issam Kazim said via video conferencing at the Dubai Accessible Tourism International Summit on Wednesday.

“Dubai tourism is back on track as a consequence of smart actions taken… that allow our city to securely navigate and accelerate out of this unique global problem,” Kazim added. “The citywide security measures put us in a solid position to overcome any problems.”

Dubai is one of the few international tourism centers that is still open for business during the busy holiday season, which has been interrupted internationally by the Omicron strain.

Dubai International Airport maintained its status as the world’s busiest for international travelers in December, surpassing major hubs such as London Heathrow as passenger traffic increased during the peak travel season. The emirate retained first place with 3.54 million seats, over one million more than the second busiest airport, London Heathrow.

“As one of the first places to successfully open to foreign travelers, we are always aiming to reach the objective of becoming one of the chosen destinations for all tourists, including determined individuals,” Mr Kazim added.

People of determination, who account about 15% of the world’s population or one billion people, provide a significant market potential to improve the global travel and tourism business. However, experts and stakeholders at the summit agreed that more changes in law, infrastructure, and staff training are required to fully realize this potential.

According to the World Health Organization, this amount is predicted to quadruple to two billion people by 2050, making it even more critical for enterprises to target the inclusive travel market. In the Middle East, over 50 million individuals with special needs look forward to visiting cities and tourist locations that provide suitable services to satisfy their requirements.

“I don’t know why they aren’t looking for this money, we’re 15% of the total population, we’re a big business for tourism,” Majid Usaimi, member of the Higher Committee for the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the Dubai Executive Council, told reporters on the sidelines of the summit. “It’s a lot of money… make it available to everyone so that you have tourists all year, it’s good.”

Coordination among stakeholders in the travel and tourism sector – including airlines, airports, hotels, entertainment venues, transportation, and others – is required to offer smooth amenities for persons of determination when traveling, he noted.

According to Anna Grazia Laura, president of the European Network for Accessible Tourism, a lack of suitable facilities and services costs the world economy around €142 billion ($162.10 billion) each year and results in the loss of 3.4 million employment.

“Accessibility, whether physical access or information provision, is likely to be of interest,” she added. “As a result, the tourist sector will need to adapt to shifting trends and implement creative techniques to meet the new expectations, wants, and preferences of expanding markets, based on their features [and] behavior.”

  • The National News