- August 31, 2021
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Expo 2020 holds a key role in revitalising the hospitality industry in the UAE, especially as the emirates recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, experts have said.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, hospitality experts noted that, with the event bringing ground-breaking technologies, innovative architecture, and over 60 live shows each day to Dubai, the UAE will naturally be home to a significant number of visitors during the event. This, in combination with the recovery of many international markets and the enormous amount of pent-up demand for travel after a year of social distancing, has left many experts optimistic that Expo 2020 Dubai will generate many opportunities for the hospitality sector in the UAE.
Tom Stevens, area vice president at Rotana, says that the UAE’s hospitality sector is on “a solid growth track and marching ahead.”
“We are optimistic and looking forward to positive times ahead, with many incredible strategies and projects in place in the UAE,” he said. “Proactive policies implemented by the government such as the UAE strategy for domestic tourism, various visa reforms, and the upcoming highly anticipated Expo 2020, represent some of the most encouraging signs instilling greater confidence in the long-term prospect. Furthermore, the easing of travel restrictions to and from the UAE over the last few weeks to key feeder markets will further boost the recovery of the country’s hospitality sectors within this year.”
Ajay Bhatia, CEO and founder of SOL Properties, noted that further than the short-term influx of new visitors, Expo 2020 will be an incredible opportunity to showcase the UAE’s hospitality industry and the level of service that it provides. This will help further solidify the UAE’s standing as a key player in the hospitality market worldwide.
“With such a large expected turnout in the last quarter, hospitality players have already been preparing by expanding their potential capacity which will definitely help to satisfy the demand,” he said. “Further, it is integral that hospitality players focus on not only the supply of luxury properties, but also properties within the mid-market price-point positioning without compromising on quality so that all visitors can be accommodated.”
He added that luckily, the UAE hospitality industry is fully equipped to deal with the mass potential visitors as the event is spread over six months, thus allowing for a spreading of visitors over a larger period of time. “In order to provide a hospitable experience, players in the hospitality industry will have to make certain adjustments to satisfy the needs of the incoming visitor market linked to transport, accessibility and naturally, the context of Covid-19. Especially given the fear of travelling in the current climate, we all need to place emphasis on operating in a way that keeps cases low.”
Similarly, Stevens said that the pandemic has fundamentally affected consumer behaviours, and the response to these changes and evolving needs is paramount to the ongoing recovery of the hospitality industry.
“New habits and expectations have surfaced, spending patterns have changed and the embracing of digital and technology has accelerated to new heights,” he noted. “Over the past 18 months, we have revised various components of our business and guest offering in response to these changing trends. In the current situation, customers truly care about brands that deliver innovation and personalisation.”
Looking back over the past few months, he observed that staycations have always been a popular segment, however, the pandemic has accelerated demand and, in some way, made it permanent. “The staycation trend looks set to continue and become even more popular, and we are confident in the long-term future of the staycation market. Many families are still choosing to stay closer to home as countries are still cautiously reopening and with ever-changing rules and guidelines, they are looking for safe ways to return to their normal life. Now more than ever is a time to offer great value and the chance for guests to escape, relax and enjoy.”
Regarding the opening of the Expo, he said that Rotana is proud to have been designated as an authorised ticket reseller for the world’s greatest show. Rotana hotels in Dubai will provide free shuttle buses to and from the Expo 2020 metro station, in cooperation with Expo 2020 Dubai and the Roads and Transport Authority. “Rotana is fully committed to ensuring Expo 2020 not only meets the expectations of visitors but exceeds them. With a robust operational and growth strategy in place, Rotana has been preparing to fulfill the city’s need for additional hotel room supply and meet the expected surge in demand.”
Bhatia added that, after a year of operating virtually, the Expo is one of the first major opportunities to reconnect the world physically. “By hosting this event, Dubai is sending a message of perseverance – that despite facing an adversity as large as this pandemic, we as a nation are ready to prosper and return to normalcy. With leaders who have handled this pandemic so diligently, we as the hospitality industry owe it to the community to follow this example and provide exemplary service capable of solidifying the UAE as one of the top competitors to host consequential and notable events in the world.”
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