Expo 2020 Image Credit: File photo

Dubai: The UAE is continuing to appraise countries for potential visa-on-arrival agreements ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai next year, Dubai’s tourism chief said on Wednesday.

Essam Kazim, the CEO of Dubai Tourism, said that the UAE was still pushing for new countries to be added to visa exemptions.

His remarks came ahead of next week’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) industry conference, taking place in Dubai. Some 40,000 visitors are expected to attend the event, taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Further bilateral cooperation with India was being discussed, Kazim said.

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“We remain focused on strengthening collaborations with our network of industry partners,” the official said in a statement. This, he said, in turn underlined the “enormous diversity that the emirate offers global travellers.”

“As a global hub of innovation, we will continue to support public-private sector partnerships to evolve our product offering and the way we engage with today’s digitally-savvy consumers,” he added.

“Keeping ahead of the global competition, we are anchored by an unwavering vision of establishing Dubai as the number one most-visited and innovative city in the world.”

Meanwhile, Emaar Hospitality announced on Wednesday that it would be launching five new hotels in Dubai this year. These would be under its luxury brand Address, upscale brand Vida, and midscale brand Rove.

Two new Address hotels will open in Downtown Dubai: The Address Fountain Views and the Address Sky View, taking the total number of hotels operated by Emaar in the Downtown area to seven.

Between the five hotels, Emaar will add a further 1,373 rooms to the market.

“The five new hotel openings this year further cement our credentials and competencies as the leading homegrown hospitality provider,” said Chris Newman, chief operating officer of Emaar Hospitality Group.

Last week, Emaar Hospitality chief executive Olivier Harnisch stepped down to “pursue new interests.”

Newman is currently running the business in the absence of a CEO.

Entering its 26th year, the organisers of ATM say the event will welcome over 2,500 exhibiting companies and an expected 40,000 industry professionals, with over 150 countries represented, 65 national pavilions, and more than 100 new exhibitors set to make their ATM debut.

According to Claude Blanc, one of the event’s organisers, this year’s show is set to feature the “largest ever exhibition from Asia in the history of ATM, with the continent witnessing an 8 per cent year-on-year increase in total show area.”

Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka are said to be the largest exhibiting countries.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the UAE’s economy is predicted to rise 4.1 per cent per annum to Dh108.4 billion by 2028.