Dubai’s resilience throughout the coronavirus pandemic will set it apart as a destination of choice for those looking to arrange regional and international events, according to the emirate’s tourism chief Helal Al Marri.
The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) had previously given the go ahead for local meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) to resume from September 15, with international events back on the agenda from October 1.
Dubai had previously hosted the successful AI Everything Summer Conference in Dubai World Trade Centre in July under strict health and safety guidelines.
Director general of DTCM, Al Marri, said: “It works. People want to meet together and you can do it during Covid.”
He revealed two international events are set to take place in the city before the end of the year, Dubai International Boat Show (November 24-28) and GITEX (December 6-10).
In reference to GITEX, he said: “All the countries that participate, the vast majority are in. Also the big corporates, where many of them have taken special permission just to participate in GITEX, even if the corporate policy is not to participate in live events.”
In 2019, Dubai Business Events (DBE) worked with city stakeholders to secure 301 meetings, conferences and incentives for the emirate, while at the same time bidding for a total of 595 events.
Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) also enjoyed a stellar year of growth in 2019, welcoming 3.57 million attendees and delegates, up four percent on the previous year, and hosting a total of 349 business events, of which 97 were classed as large-scale, with more than 2,000 attendees. International participation in events at DWTC spiked by 15 percent to 1.2 million.
Although he conceded certain levels of spending may be curtailed as a result of the economic impacts of Covid-19, Al Marri was confident the emirate can get back to those levels – and even surpass them.
“Post-Covid I don’t see really much change. Definitely we will be affected in industries that have been affected by the economic side of this pandemic. We will find a slight retraction in the marketing spend, the marketing budgets and everything else that we will have to deal with,” he said.
“The events we have booked in Q1 are all looking strong and, as the year goes by, we expect it to go on. In fact, we do expect us as Dubai to win a lot more of these international events because of what we’ve demonstrated through this period and we’re seeing great interest over the next 12 months from people shifting to Dubai,” he added.
A recent market survey of more than 4,000 professionals from 130 countries explored the impact of Covid-19 on the global exhibitions industry, looking at areas such as travel, budgets, and the importance of trade fairs in a post-pandemic world.
The study covered a range of industry sectors from the auto aftermarket and commercial security to beauty and cosmetics, showing that 77 percent of respondents viewed Dubai and Germany (41 percent of respondents), as the safest destinations to attend exhibitions post Covid-19.