TS Gagneet Kaur
From the time Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) and Chairman of Dubai Airports, took to Twitter announcing the gleaming city being officially open to visitors from July 7, 2020, the efforts by UAE’s government along with the reinvented strategies put into action by the key tourism stakeholders and administrators, have been much-admired globally. Not only has the Emirate successfully controlled the spread of the virus, it has also earned a ‘Safe Travel’ stamp which has indeed proved how the government is all prepped up to adapt to and persist in the new normal.
While tourism has been the lifeline of the Emirate that recorded over 16 million tourists last year, the year of 2020 started with a strong trajectory recording 3.27 million international overnight visitors during January and February. But even after the pandemic crippled the global travel and tourism industry, Dubai became one of the first cities to prepare, adapt and persist. Thereby, underlining their commitment to combat the pandemic with new norms and measures while boosting the city’s awareness among the keen travellers intending to step out and explore, Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) hosted its first-ever virtual familiarisation tour for Indian travel trade media on September 22 and 23, 2020. DTCM’s virtual FAM included tours to key attractions, product presentations, media e-interactions and interesting prize-winning contests towards the end. The stakeholders including Emaar Entertainment, Emaar Hospitality Group, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, IMG Worlds of Adventure and Meraas Entertainment showcased their standard operating procedures being followed and implemented across the city.
Highlighting the efforts made by the government, Bader Ali Habib, Manager, Indian Subcontinent, International Operations, DTCM said, “Dubai is one of the first few cities in the world to be recognised by UN World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) WTTC ‘Safe Travels stamp’, which places safety and hygiene of travellers as top priority for the Emirate. This has been possible because of the combined efforts of UAE’s government, the tourism authority, Dubai Airports, Emirates Airlines and Flydubai. The stamp reassures the guests that all the safety and hygiene measures prescribed by the authorities have been complied with.”
Further, he added, “These tough times present to us an opportunity to re-think, reimagine and reshape our industry like never before. The city of Dubai is now fully aligned and well-prepared to receive tourists from all around the world including India. We are making sure all the tourism establishments and tourist touchpoints are complying with the health and safety guidelines. A recently launched program called ‘Dubai Assured stamp’ for hotels, tourist attractions, retail establishments and F&B outlets ensures stringent health and safety protocols are being followed. Moreover, most of the key attractions are now open and live events have kick-started with around 30 per cent capacity. We have also successfully reactivated our MICE activities where we resumed the local events from September 15, 2020 and the other general events are expected to resume in October. These events will be organised keeping in mind the stringent health and safety precautions of both the visitors and the attendees. This has been made possible due to the city’s ability to adapt quickly and the due credit goes to the decisive citywide management.”
Habib informed that a tremendous increase was recorded in the search volumes within three days after Dubai’s opening announcement and seeing the surge, the authority has been consistently trying to insert volumes across all major booking platforms where Dubai, fortunately, has featured in the preferred top five for almost all the markets globally which included India. “We have been working very closely with the Indian trade partners. With their support, we are hopeful to welcome Indian tourists when they are ready to travel as Dubai inches towards normalcy. Now more than ever, it is imperative for us to market and highlight the destination. In a nutshell, Dubai is ready when you are,” he concluded optimistically.
While the destination is leaving no stone unturned to keep its visitors reassured of stringent SOPs put in place, the hospitality operators are going to great lengths to ensure a well-rounded and safe experience. “Emaar Hospitality Group is reinventing the strategies on how we can look into the touchpoints and ensure safe yet luxurious hospitality, at the same time. In collaboration with Boecker, a member of CIEH-UK, Emaar Hospitality Group has implemented the highest safety and germ control measures across all its hotels. With an ever-growing hospitality landscape, we, at Emaar Hospitality Group, keep the safety of our guests and staff the top-most priority across all our brands Armani Hotel Dubai, Address Hotels + Resorts, Vida Hotels & Resorts and Rove Hotels,” said Chris Newman, Chief Operating Officer, Emaar Hospitality Group while he added, “We try and join all the dots to give an incredibly safe experience.”
Newman also announced upcoming properties which included the Address Jumeirah Resort which is a new beachfront development located right at the end of the Jumeirah Beach strip, expected to open by the end of this year.
While Dubai is consistent about not compromising on the ‘wow’ quotient of the city and has regained its vibe and energy, the government along with the tourism authorities is continuing to work closely with the city’s network of stakeholders across the public and private sectors and its partners overseas.