Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), shares Dubai’s plan of restarting tourism and the way forward
The destination has recommenced international MICE from October with all SOPs and protocols in place
Dubai has been one of the first destinations to contain spread of the virus and has successfully restarted tourism. The destination is once again witnessing demand from India market.
Dubai being one of the first destinations to restart tourism, what kind of hurdles did you face? How has the response been? Do you see a first movers’ advantage here?
As everyone is aware, the travel and tourism sector was among the very first industries to be impacted by COVID-19, with the repercussions being felt across all vertical sectors. However, today’s realities have opened up infinite possibilities, to fuel new thinking and accelerate collaborative solution-building with our stakeholders, and how we choose to respond, evolve and innovate together will set us on the path to pioneer the new normal for the future of global tourism.
According to recent analysis of travel metasearch engines such as Booking.com or Expedia, customers are looking for trips to those destinations that are among the most popular even in "normal" times. Dubai is mentioned as one of the top places people are looking for, so we remain optimistic that our visitors will continue to support the strong trajectory we started the year with. It’s an amazing feeling seeing the fun returning to Dubai with the reopening of attractions, facilities and amenities such as hotels, malls, beaches, public parks and water parks – of course all with stringent safety measures in place across the board.
Instilling confidence has been the priority for destinations. What has your approach been in instilling confidence and attracting travellers?
With the combined efforts of the UAE's leadership, government and tourism sector stakeholders, as well as Dubai Airports, Emirates Airlines and flydubai, our stringent safety and security protocols have been recognised globally by the WTTC who awarded us the ‘Safe Travels Stamp’ which definitely helps reinforcing Dubai as a “safe destination” to visit. In addition, and on a local level, we launched the ‘Dubai Assured’ programme in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development (DED) & Dubai Municipality, that certifies and recognises hotels and retail establishments, F&B outlets and attractions, that implement all public health and safety protocols for the prevention and management of COVID-19.
What are your quarantine policies? In addition, is the government supporting tourists who test positive for COVID-19 on arrival or during their visit?
Tourists are only required to quarantine if they test positive with COVID-19. All tourists, residents, citizens and transit passengers must present a valid negative PCR test on arrival. Tourists who show symptoms on arrival and test positive for COVID-19 after being re-tested must comply with a 14-day quarantine. The traveller will bear the cost of treatment and quarantine unless their carrier is Emirates or FlyDubai. Emirates passengers will automatically receive free global cover for COVID-19 health expenses and quarantine costs through to October 31, 2020 and FlyDubai passengers through to November 30, 2020.
The destination has also restarted business and MICE tourism. What are the protocols issued for the same? Also, any incentive for MICE during this period?
Local MICE activity successfully resumed on September 15 and international activity will be welcomed back from October 1. We have issued circulars on clear safety and security protocols that must be adhered to by the event organisers and attendees, which include steralisation of all public areas ahead of the event, social distancing, mandatory face masks and isolation zones. We also saw great success when we hosted the Ai Everything Conference in July, so with these systems in place, we are optimistic for an increase in events in the coming months.
Looking to retail, festival and leisure events, we are now gearing up for a busy season in the remaining months of 2020, with the Dubai Home Festival, Dubai Fitness Challenge, and our crown jewel the Dubai Shopping Festival to close out the year.
What are your plans for the upcoming IPL season? Are you looking to restart sports tourism? What will be the strategy and how will you showcase Dubai during this sporting season?
This is the first time that the tournament is being entirely played in the UAE and we are very excited to host it this year. This opportunity is giving us a chance to not only showcase our cricket infrastructure but how effectively the city has implemented standard operating procedures. Further to this, BCCI’s confidence in the UAE and Dubai in particular, is reassuring of our efforts to ensure that both, travellers and residents feel safe and confident in the Government’s efforts towards hygiene and safety measures. We are hugely grateful to host the IPL and we really do see it as a key enabler in positioning Dubai as a global destination for sporting events.