Mission possible

Helal Almarri is planning to double tourists to Dubai by 2020

Helal Almarri is planning to double tourists to Dubai by 2020

When it comes to big numbers, big ideas and big plans — few people do it better than H.E Helal Almarri. The director general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has only been in the job for four months, but is already thinking ahead to 2020.

And what a seven-year ride it promises to be: by then, Almarri wants to see a staggering 20 million visitors a year in the emirate, double today’s figure.  Better still, he wants to treble the contribution of tourism to Dubai’s economy to AED300bn a year.

The dream family destination. The perfect business destination. The premier events destination. You name it — anything from marine life to mega concerts, and world-class exhibitions to weekend breaks, Almarri wants it all. The way he tells it to you, it all seems so simple, so achievable.

“If you look at the growth figures for Dubai, and how we have doubled our numbers in the last eight years, well I think we can do that again. Everything is coming together in this city. It is becoming quite spectacular,” he says.

This is all being branded the Tourism Vision for 2020, officially launched yesterday (Saturday). The Vision’s visitor growth targets will be achieved through three priority streams: by maintaining market share across existing source markets — where organic growth driven by economic and demographic factors will deliver an up-lift in visitor numbers; by growing market share across key identified source markets and priority segments through targeted marketing and shaping of the destination’s offer; and by increasing the number of repeat visits, already a significant driver for tourism in the city.

To treble the tourism sector’s economic contribution - in addition to spurring visitor growth - the Vision’s strategy will enhance Dubai’s tourism offering, driving up the average length of stay and increasing the average amount spent by tourists during their visit.

Almarri will be focusing on three key areas: making Dubai the world’s leading family destination, and pushing hard on the emirate’s attraction as both an events and business destination.

“I think when you look at the potential for Dubai to be a premier family destination, the potential is huge. Dubai is not known today for its marine life but it’s actually spectacular. Fly fishing. Salt water. Even the number of birds close to an urban area. All these things, we have not had to push yet, but these things will come through,” he says.

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