Travel and tourism sectors are important to any country’s economy. In the UAE, its contribution to the GDP is forecast to be AED 264.5 billion (US$72 billion) in 2027. Expo 2020 and the UAE’s effective COVID-19 management have been central to the country’s tourism industry.
In Dubai, the Department of Tourism data shows that the city welcomed 3.7 million overnight visitors from when the borders began opening in July 2020 to May 2021. The positive outlook underlines the initiation of the path to recovery.
As tourism numbers continue to rise again, the local industry will need to usher in a new era of tourism. For hospitality and tourism, to bring back their customers, agility will be critical. Post-pandemic, travellers will be much more mindful of the need to travel to places with COVID-19 awareness and protocols and where it is easy to maintain social distancing practices.
Additionally, the measures that countries have developed and put into place to support COVID-19 curbs and people’s movements will be viewed favourably by tourists.
Local authorities have laun-ched initiatives to promote the travel and tourism industry in the UAE. As a result, several plans and projects were implemented to develop tourism and environment-friendly destinations and promote cultural tourism, activities, festivals, and sustainability projects.
One example of this is Dubai’s sustainable tourism initiative — Get into the Green Scene campaign. It is aimed at Dubai residents/visitors to raise awareness of sustainable attractions and to highlight the benefits of incorporating sustainable practices in daily life. The campaign has supported Dubai’s sustainable tourism agenda from eco-conscious actions that promote the city’s natural spaces and hidden gems and spotlighting advocacy organisations, partners, and stakeholders working towards a more sustainable planet.
Another initiative is the launch of the Abu Dhabi Medical Tourism e-portal by the Department of Health, Abu Dhabi and Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi. The portal offers a list of healthcare facilities included in the medical tourism network where users can
access medical tourism insurance packages, and touristic services.
Recently, the Emirates Tourism Council has agreed to support gathering tourism data to promote pro-active tourism development efforts. It was reported that UAE hotels experienced an increase in occupancy rate (62 per cent) during the first half of 2021 as against 53.6 per cent reported during the same period in 2020, while total revenue reached AED 11.3 billion compared to AED 8.6 billion in the corresponding period. The total number of hotels guests during the first half of 2021 reached 8.3 million guests, a 15 per cent rise against the same period of the previous year. Data such as these help the sector keep abreast of the developments and statistics that can help the industry.
Although COVID-19 has halted global travel and tourism, UAE has created pathways through collaborations and government initiatives. From sustainable tourism to in-country tourism, the country is on its way to full tourism recovery.