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Tue 25 Jun 2013 11:45 AM

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Tourism is centre stage in Dubai's economy

DTCM's new Vision 2020 to double tourism figures is an ambitious plan but there's no doubt Dubai will achieve it

Tourism is centre stage in Dubai's economy
Monika Canty

Dubai has only gone and done it again — bowled up with a crazily ambitious pie-the-sky announcement and a plan to pull off the impossible so that all the doubters and naysayers can be proved wrong. Again.

Only this time; as soon as I heard the plan for 'Dubai’s Vision 2020' I had no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the objectives will be reached — despite how ambitious they are.

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) announced last month that it aims to attract 20 million visitors per year by 2020 and triple tourism’s contribution to Dubai’s economy from the current AED100 billion as part of its Vision 2020.

Just to put that in number in perspective — last year, the UK, one of the world’s most popular and established tourism destinations received around 30million visitors — so it's really quite remarkable that Dubai could soon be edging up to catch it; especially considering how young its tourism sector is (DTCM itself was only established in 1997).

But going on past experience it’s entirely possible. Inbound tourists to Dubai have already doubled from 5 million a year to 10 million in the past eight years; and while the rest of the Middle East has seen a slump in tourism arrivals post Arab Spring, Dubai has stood out like a shining beacon in the region as tourists have kept flocking in on account of its safety and stability.

HE Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of DTCM, unveiled the detailed plan behind the 'Vision' which involves building on Dubai’s tourism offering across events, attractions, infrastructure and services to enhance the overall visitor experience; and adopting a new marketing approach to showcase Dubai to a wider audience.

New source markets will be tapped— aided by the continually expanding Emirates Airline — such as Latin America, China and the emerging economies of Africa; while ‘family tourism’ and the region’s burgeoning events calendar will be a prime focus, with theme parks and extra events added to the already packed calendar.

Al Marri appears far from overwhelmed by the scale of the task ahead commenting: “Questions were asked about whether these kinds of plans were achievable eight years ago and look how far we have come since then."

And for all of us in this industry, the prominence placed on travel and tourism as a major pillar in the Dubai economy going forward is surely a sign of bright times ahead.

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