Like most other Gulf countries, the UAE began its journey to economic prosperity through a petroleum-based economy. But then during the 1980’s, the UAE began a concerted effort to diversify its economy and involve more international players. In fact, by 2015 some 70 percent of the country’s GDP came from non-oil sectors, including everything from media, to telecom, to manufacturing, to commercial aviation, to tourism.
And speaking of tourism and human services, hospitality has officially become a big business in the UAE. The fast-growing transportation infrastructure, the presence of world-class airlines, and the strategic location of the country itself have all combined as major drivers for the growth of the UAE hospitality sector. In fact, the UAE has recorded the highest occupancy rate among Middle Eastern tourist destinations for several years now, and those numbers only look to increase going forward. And with the country now gearing up to host one of the biggest international events in the world – Dubai Expo 2020 – the opportunity for growth in the UAE hospitality industry remains ripe.
Dubai 2020 (originally scheduled for 2020, but delayed to 2021-2022 thanks to the pandemic) is in fact the latest in a series of international World Expositions. These global festivals are organized every five years, and provide a forum where people from all over the world can come together to celebrate, share, connect and innovate. Officially known as International Registered Exhibitions, World Expos encourage nations to find solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time through international collaboration and shared knowledge. Each World Expo is organized around a theme that attempts to improve humankind’s knowledge, speak to our social aspirations, and highlight progress in areas including science, technology, economy, and social progress. Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) – an intergovernmental organization based in Paris – was created in 1928 to regulate and oversee these mega-events. The BIE and World Expos act as a bridge between governments, citizens, and companies by providing a global platform for education, progress, and growth.
The last World Expo was hosted in Milan, Italy, from May through October of 2015, with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” The main focus of the 2015 Expo was food security: the right to healthy, secure, and sufficient food. According to BIE data, Milan Expo 2015 received some 21.5 million visitors from all over the world. Expo participants represented 145 countries, three international organizations, and many civil organizations, corporations, and nongovernment organizations (NGOs).
Dubai Expo 2020 – now scheduled for October 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022 – is the first World Exposition ever to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region. The theme of Dubai Expo 2020 is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” and is set to explore the power of connections among humankind, specifically those which enable us to put aside differences and collaborate for a shared hope of a better future together. The three key subthemes of Dubai Expo 2020 are what has been termed the universal drivers of progress: Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability.
The core focus of the event is to make knowledge, innovation, and greater markets accessible to more people, governments, and businesses. To that end, this Expo should serve as an excellent platform for building and developing greater international relationships. Businesses in particular should see this as a great opportunity for networking, and for connecting with many potential investors for future projects.
Mega-events like the World Expo help to project the local host economy into the spotlight, essentially creating a launching pad for the hotel and tourism industry for many years to come. For example, Expo 2015’s impact on the hospitality industry in Milan has indeed been significant. Expo 2015 generated more than a 15 percent increase in the average price of Airbnb accommodations in and around Milan, and also had a positive effect on the revenue gained per available room (RevPAR). RevPAR numbers saw a 38 percent increase, thanks to the increased influx of visitors to the Milan region.
Milan Expo didn’t just benefit the hospitality sector; it also benefited the wholesale and distribution sectors as well. Following the same path, it can be safely predicted that Dubai Expo 2020 is going to have a positive impact on many area business sectors.
More than 200 participants – including 192 countries, many international organizations, and several NGOs – will come together to celebrate Expo 2020 in Dubai over the next 6 months. It’s expected by Dubai will see some 25 million individual guests come to town over the course of the event. The success of the UAE hospitality sector in serving visitors’ needs during this event will greatly determine how many decide to return as tourists with their families at some point in the future.
The hotel and restaurant sectors in particular are primed to gain quite a bit from Dubai Expo 2020. During the peak period of activity, it’s estimated that the economic impact will equal somewhere around 1.5% of the entire annual GDP for the UAE as a country!
A report issued by The Economist said that several industries in the UAE should experience a nice post-pandemic recovery thanks to the World Expo 2020, including the real estate, aviation industry, infrastructure industry, hotels, restaurants, and retailers, among others.
And here’s what Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), had to say: “Not only will Expo 2020 increase international arrivals to the UAE and showcase the country as a major global tourism hub – it has also provided the country with the opportunity to expand its world-class hospitality offerings; upgrade its airports and transport infrastructure; and develop an expansive array of new retail, leisure, and entertainment facilities as well as diversifying its key source markets by reaching out to new and emerging markets.”
The UAE government has recently introduced a new multi-entry, 5-year tourist visa. This should help to encourage more frequent travel to the UAE, as well as longer stays in the country. Newer airline routes have also made the country much more accessible to a host of first-time tourists from emerging markets, including India and China. Moves like these should bode well towards helping to facilitate more opportunities for hospitality and tourism growth throughout the Emirates.
With the Covid-19 situation steadily improving around the world, and with the Dubai Expo 2020 literally now being on the doorstep, the hospitality industry in UAE should see quite a boom over the months to come. Business-friendly government policies should serve to benefit commercial endeavors across practically every industry in the UAE, in fact. Ready to take full advantage of the opportunities presented for your business? Then it’s high time for you to land upon an effective digital marketing strategy! Cibirix has offices in Dubai, India, and the U.S., and we’re here to help! Call us today at (336) 415-3534.
Rahul Uikey is responsible for helping to manage On-Page SEO for our marketing clients at Cibirix. Rahul is really a marketer at heart, and brings expertise in B2C marketing, branding, and communication. He’s passionate about On-Page SEO, local SEO, and digital marketing in general. One of Rahul’s roles at Cibirix is to look after the well-being of our clients’ websites and the message they’re trying to convey to both potential and existing customers. He enjoys doing keyword research in order to help capture new audiences for our clients. When he is isn’t working, you can find Rahul reading fiction or history books, watching documentaries, or just spending some quality time with his family and friends.