Dubai: A destination of choice for a number of global markets, Dubai has maintained steady tourism volumes with 11.58 million visitors in the first three quarters of 2018. India retained its position as the Emirate’s leading source market followed by Saudi Arabia and the UK. Russia, China and Germany continued to be key drivers within the top performing markets, each recording double-digit growth compared to the same period in 2017.
However, given the ambitious target of receiving 25 million visitors in 2025, Dubai Tourism is leaving no stone unturned to maintain the growth momentum. Besides, the ever-increasing hospitality offerings demand steady growth in tourism arrivals to maintain the ADR (Average Daily Rate) of properties and to propel growth.
Taking these factors into account, Dubai Business Events (DBE), Dubai’s official convention bureau, has ramped up efforts to highlight the city’s latest offerings to international audiences and strengthen strategic partnerships to help grow the business event sector in the Emirate.
As part of this, DBE will conduct two roadshows in India covering eight different cities in 2019. This was informed by Steen Jakobsen, Assistant Vice President, DBE, in an exclusive chat with Destination Reporter in Dubai in December 2018. Destination Reporter was part of the India MICE Mission hosted by DBE which included leading travel agents and select travel trade media from the country.
“In June 2019, DBE will hold roadshows in Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata whereas the second roadshow to be held in September will be in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and New Delhi. In addition to this, DBE will host two MICE missions from India. The first MICE mission for corporate MICE planners will be conducted in April while the one for travel agents has been scheduled for December 2019,” said Jakobsen, who is responsible for the promotion and development of Dubai into one of the worlds’ leading destinations for business events.
Prior to joining DBE, Steen was the director of Copenhagen Convention Bureau for eight years. He served on the Board of Directors as third Vice President of International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) from 2008 – 2014.
Currently, 80 per cent of business emanating from India is in the incentives space and the remaining are corporate conferences. According to DBE, businesses are primarily generated from tier I and II cities. However, in India, DBE is keen on doing promotions in tier III cities as well.
“DBE has been focussing heavily on the Indian market for quite a while. In 2017, we opened a dedicated office in India. Apart from roadshows in tier I and II cities, our office in India makes sales calls to different tier III markets on a daily basis as part of their regular work,” Jakobsen added.
During the first quarter of 2018, India again brought in the highest number of international guests to Dubai, crossing the one million mark. At the end of September 2018, visitors from India to Dubai stood at 14,69,000 followed by Saudi Arabia with 12,25,000. “On an average, about 12 per cent of all visitors who come to Dubai do so for business purposes. That percentage is higher for India, around 15 to 16 per cent,” he said.
DBE reported strong results for the first half of 2018, with 125 successful bids to host business events, reflecting a 29 per cent increase from the same period last year. Conferences, meetings and incentive programmes secured in the first six months of 2018, including from bids submitted in previous years, are poised to attract over 65,000 delegates from around the world, resulting in an expected economic impact of approximately AED 500 million, further cementing Dubai’s position as a leading global business events destination.
Jakobsen, however, said DBE could not divulge a breakdown in terms of business wins from the Indian market for the time being. “What’s important, I can say, is that a large number of events are from the Indian markets. For Dubai, India, in general, is mainly a market for leisure, business and weddings. We are closely observing the movements in other segments such as golf and medical tourism to see if there is potential for a targeted effort to attract more tourists. We are expecting half a million tourists to visit Dubai by 2020 for the purpose of medical tourism,” he said.
Key Growth Drivers
Tourism from Russia remained on a high trajectory, growing by a massive 60 per cent year-on-year, with visitor numbers surging to 4,60,000 from January to September, 2018. The increase in Russian overnight guests was supported by a strong 19 per cent growth in air capacity across non-stop flights, in addition to added ease of travel following the introduction of visa-on-arrival facilities in the last two years.
China also continued to highlight benefits from the visa-on-arrival scheme, complementing the ongoing ‘China Readiness’ strategy, consequently reinforcing its upward curve resulting in China securing its position as the fourth largest feeder market with an impressive 6,41,000 visitors so far in 2018, marking a 12 per cent increase versus 5,73,000 for the same period in 2017. Germany grew even faster at 15 per cent to reach 3,88,000 visitors during the first nine months of 2018, landing in eighth place within the top 10 source markets for Dubai.
“China is one market which is showing considerable growth across all categories over the last three years. It is now the fourth largest source market. Four years ago, China was not even in the top 10,” he said.
Tourism growth has contributed to an increase in hospitality offerings in Dubai, with 706 establishments offering a cumulative 1,12,381 available rooms in the Emirate as of September 2018, a solid 4 per cent increase compared to 678 establishments, and 6 per cent increase compared to 1,06,167 available rooms in 2017. By the end of 2019, Dubai will have a total room inventory of 1,32,000. Average occupancy for the hotel sector stood at 75 per cent, underscoring the industry’s stability despite the rising inventory supply, with establishments delivering a combined 21.89 million occupied room nights during the first nine months of 2018.
Delegates Get A Tour of Latest Tourism Products
The India MICE Mission hosted by Dubai Business Events provided delegates an opportunity to experience the Emirate’s latest tourism products. The itinerary included Dubai Frame – the 150-metre-high structure resembling a huge picture frame, dhow cruise at Dubai creek, IMG Worlds of Adventure, Le Mer – Dubai’s latest beachfront destination for dining, Dubai Autodrome – UAE’s first fully-integrated multipurpose motorsport and entertainment facility and Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) – the iconic ocean liner turned upscale hotel located at Port Rashid Marina. The team also had site inspections at Intercontinental Festival City, Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt and Madinat Jumeirah besides a 20-minute-long seaplane tour by Seawings Seaplane Tours Dubai, providing a stunning bird’s eye view of the Dubai skyline. The DBE team comprising Kiran Bhandari, Director, India; Michelle Pinheiro, Senior Executive, Sales and Convention Service and Pradeep Israni, Manager, India gave inputs on how these attractions can be integrated with their MICE itinerary so that business travellers can experience Dubai even better.
(The author was hosted by Dubai Business Events)
Major Upcoming MICE Events in Dubai
Pro-Health China Incentive
World Congress of Neurology
Congress of the International Federation of Health Information Management Associations
Congress of the International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement
The International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing Geospatial Week
Expo 2020 Dubai
World Down Syndrome Congress
Congress of the International Children’s Continence Society
International Astronautical Congress
World Chamber Congress
International Congress for the World Confederation for Physical Therapy
World Congress of Gastroenterology
Asia Pacific Congress of Cardiology
International Conference on Emergency Medicine
Congress of the World Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons
Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions