2019 outlook: Dubai tourism's digitalisation will form a vital component of its aim to attract 25m visitors by 2025

Dubai's destination offering is at the forefront of a globally transforming travel industry, writes Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing
2019 outlook: Dubai tourism's digitalisation will form a vital component of its aim to attract 25m visitors by 2025
MICE destination Dubai is set to become the most visited city for global travel, business and events
By Issam Kazim
Mon 07 Jan 2019 10:42 AM

The global face of tourism has evolved over time, buoyed by the democratisation of travel and the rising importance of differentiated experiences to increasingly connected consumers.

Dubai’s destination offering is at the forefront of a globally transforming travel industry, where catering to the multifaceted needs of our diversified audiences has propelled us into the future of travel.

With technological advancements, an ever more connected world and a continuously growing consumer appetite for the best travel experiences, Dubai is poised for ground-breaking developments through true personalisation and smart technology that will allow us to offer something new to both first time travellers and repeat visitors to our emirate.

During 2018, Dubai has experienced consistent growth as a destination, retaining its ranking as the fourth most visited city in the world for the fourth year in a row.

Establishing a blueprint for further accelerated growth across diversified focal points is Dubai’s Tourism Strategy 2022-25 which will enable us to build on our ‘digital, mobile and social first’ agenda across five fundamental pillars: harnessing the power of data; redefining the customer journey; being the game changer in brand communications; raising the stakes in the travel experience; and exploring new avenues for breakthrough innovation.

Our strategy also promotes the adoption of disruptive technology and out-of-the-box thinking across the entirety of the travel and tourism sector.

The vision we had set was purely about driving visitation numbers of tourists to Dubai

As an organisation operating within a rapidly evolving global industry, Dubai Tourism represents a city governed by leadership that values innovation at its core in line with the vision of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to provide a qualitative boost to the Dubai 10X initiative.

As we work towards future-proofing Dubai’s tourism-linked economy by delivering the exceptional experiences that today’s travellers are seeking, we are committed to empowering our public and private sector stakeholders to develop strategic programmes to adapt to traveller needs in an increasingly dynamic environment.

Dubai’s Tourism Strategy 2022-25 will guide the industry in creating a highly digitised, customised and democratised travel ecosystem; one that places technological innovation at its heart.

So, as we look to shape our strategy to become the world’s most visited city, we are continuously monitoring key travel trends that are driving the industry forward.

Both the local and global travel ecosystems are seeing an increasing shift towards bespoke and personalised tourist experiences. Dubai, with its wealth of attractions and activities offering multi-layered levels of engagement and discovery, is an ideal destination for visitors wanting immersive opportunities. As more travellers actively seek to delve deeper into what destinations have to offer, we are journeying beyond simple transactional authenticity to unveil a wider world of immersion where people can understand the rich culture that underpins Dubai’s growth into a modern metropolis.

While landmarks and key tourist attractions remain important, industry research has shown that the new generation of visitors value experiential authenticity, with 60 percent of travellers surveyed by Booking.com rating experiences more highly than material possessions.

Technological diversification has fundamentally shifted the way information is consumed by today’s travellers. Tailor-made experiences now require customised information, with real-time product updates and personalisation tools to create short-form and individualised itineraries. Initiatives such as the Visit Dubai 2.0 mobile app play a crucial role in delivering hyper-relevant and personalised information, helping international visitors and residents make the most of their trips.

Dubai has continued to be a must-visit and must-return destination

Now in its second iteration, the application broadens the distribution of Dubai’s diverse inventory by helping users explore a variety of pre-determined itineraries as well as inviting them to curate their own from a wide range of experiences available.

Keeping abreast of the increasing demand for cultural immersion, Dubai Tourism has also collaborated with two digital tour apps for free audio tours. Titled ‘Metro Moments’ and ‘Al Fahidi Architecture Tour’, the audio narrations are supported by GPS technology to guide visitors through Dubai, automatically progressing from one point of interest to the next in real time, depending on the user’s location.

Catering to the city’s varied audiences is crucial and helps us to showcase the variety of tourism propositions across the city, highlighting what is new to those who have visited before. Bringing together the support of key stakeholders, we are actively ensuring we keep up to date on what our key source markets are looking for, and how to enhance the guest experience across all touchpoints.

A prime example of this strategy is Dubai Tourism’s efforts to appeal to a diverse range of audiences in the Chinese market. Throughout 2018, we saw the introduction of the Dubai Tourism China Mark, the launch of the Wechat Mini Programme, celebrations for Chinese New Year across the city and industry leading collaborations with technology brands such as Huawei, Tencent and Fliggy to offer Chinese visitors a rich programme of interactive content. 2019 will see a continuation of these efforts, with exciting new market strategies in the pipeline.

With the city set to attract 25 million visitors by 2025, we anticipate the acceleration of such tourism-led initiatives to leverage new technologies and expedite the transformation of the city into a smart, future focused destination that appeals to our target audiences.


Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing

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