The Expo 2020 logo
The buildup to the Expo is looking good, going by the forward bookings. It will continue right through the summer as well. Image Credit: Screengrab

Dubai: Dubai’s hotels and tourism-focussed businesses can start breathing easy – forward booking for the Expo in October is “looking healthy”. That’s according to Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism, the agency that is right at the centre of reclaiming Dubai’s status as the destination to be in.

"What we hear from our partners is that they seem to be very happy with the way things are being conducted now, they can see the appetite is back," said Kazim. "We're not involved in the ticket sale aspects… but I know that everything is pointing towards a very positive push."

The rescheduled Expo will start in October and go on till April 2022.

Issam Kazim of Dubai Tourism provides an update and a wishlist on the industry's prospects. Irish Eden R. Belleza/Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Summer strategy

After a better-than-expected Ramadan-Eid period for hotels, Dubai's next focus will be to keep occupancy levels at optimum levels through the long summer. The 'Dubai Summer Surprises' programme is part of this effort.

"It's literally about trying all through the summer months, creating lots of events, and working with a lot of the private sector and malls," said Kazim.

Dubai Tourism brings hotel operators to its offices to do a full workshop. "We show them exactly what we're planning for that period of time," said Kazim. "We also do separate individual workshops to be able to deep dive into what their needs are, and accordingly, target the right segments of our markets."

Issam Kazim CEO of Dubai Tourism,
Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

UK situation needs mending

UAE continues to be on the UK' s ‘red list’ of countries despite resumption of international flights from the country. The decision had attracted the ire of frequent travelers and businessmen who rely heavily on that route. (A red list requires strict quarantining for travellers.)

"It's one of those situations where it's not something that we control - it is something that their government is deciding on now," said Kazim. "We're doing our part to make sure that we are educating the market. It's just a matter of time before they really see the demand that exists - and in a big way back - in the UK."

Potential replacements

With international borders constantly re-opening and closing down, it has become vital for travel and aviation entities to tap into newer markets.

"Africa, the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) and Northern European countries have huge potential," said Kazim. "When you have situations like what we're going through now, it gives us that added reason to venture into those markets."

Earlier this month, the UAE placed an indefinite ban on flights from India, shutting some of the world’s busiest air routes and also its biggest source market.

More events coming up

Although business travel remains subdued at a global level, there's enough evidence that it is making a comeback in Dubai. The city hosted two international trade shows during the pandemic - Gulfood and GITEX.

"We started in 2020, with an event, which was more local, and then very quickly we started to open up to more and more events," said Kazim "It's only going to keep getting better and better from here"

Abu Dhabi rule change

An Abu Dhabi official said the emirate would do away with compulsory quarantine for international arrivals from July 1. Abu Dhabi will also make it easier for travelers to enter the emirate by road.

"The complementing factors of the entry point is one thing, but it's also the complementing factors of the product as well," said Kazim.