While business travel to the United States continues to decline—thanks to President Trump’s travel ban restricting travelers from certain, mostly Muslim countries—tourism to Dubai is picking up. And one major force driving this growth: meeting planners.
Dubai Tourism’s 2016 tourism figures, released in February, show 14.9 million overnight visitors, a 5 percent year-over-year increase—that’s twice the global average. That number also makes Dubai the fourth most-visited city in the world.
Dubai tourism director highlights strategy
“Collaboration with our industry partners and key government stakeholders is integral for sustained growth, and 2017 will see an even greater impetus as our collective efforts will define our ability to stay ahead of the curve in the months ahead,” His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Dubai Tourism’s director general said in a statement.
“From a governmental perspective, in addition to streamlining visa requirements and easing barriers to entry for tourists from all parts of the world, we have also been working on enabling airlift and direct connectivity to Dubai to ensure that we, as a destination, are able to offer the convenience and accessibility that are key decision-triggers for prospective travelers,” he added.
“Additionally, we continue to work very closely with airline partners, the travel trade and the hotel sector to create compelling transit programs for stopover-specific markets such as Australia, USA and the Far East,” he said.
The government’s efforts are paying off. Of the noteworthy conferences that are coming to the city, Dubai Business Events (DBE) has recently added World Congress of Cardiology 2018, Lions Clubs International ISAAME Forum 2018 and International Federation of Health Information Management Associations International Congress 2019.
Dubai snaps up meetings awards
Dubai’s recent awards also underscore the success of its business-travel program. The city has been recognized as the Overseas Luxury MICE Destination of the Year 2016 at the China Travel & Meetings Industry Awards—Business Travel & MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) and was named the Middle East’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination 2016 at the World Travel Awards Middle East.
“Our ultimate goal is aimed at not just attracting tourists, but also at capturing the highest value, ensuring that tourism contribution to the economy is further amplified,” Almarri said.
“The solid foundations that we have put in place through diversification of markets, a broadening portfolio of attractions and facilities and a collaborative approach between the hotel and hospitality sectors and the retail community, as well as the collective contribution of government, public and private enterprises will allow us to accelerate the pace of growth in 2017 and well into the future,” he said.