In Dubai, the Arabian Travel Market, an annual tourism, hospitality and trade platform launched 21 years ago is helping growth in the tourism industry. Funke Olaode and Funmi Ogundare who visited the country recently write that Nigeria can also grow its tourism industry through creativity.
What would it profit a country that embarks on annual exhibition that boasts of millions of exhibitors and tourists across the globe you may ask? The purpose really, is to attract tourists to the country and boost the economy. The recently concluded Arabian Travel Market held at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre between May 4 and 8, 2014 in Dubai achieved this with thousands of visitors who converged not only to showcase their wares but to also catch a glimpse of the city, which has become one of the most desired destinations in the world.
With its less than 6 million population and a GDP par capital predicted to rise by 22 per cent to just $75,000 by 2015, Dubai, a city of superlatives, pristine beaches and an interesting mix of indoor and outdoor entertainment, has in the last 21 years been playing host to thousands of visitors from around the world. The Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the exhibition took place is a massive edifice that attracts common interests. It is an avenue that gives stakeholders in tourism business the opportunity to keep up with the latest insight in travels. True, it is often described as a place to showcase travels/ tourism and hospitality by stakeholders across the globe. So Arabia Travel Market is a leading global event for the travel industry. And over the years, it has lived up to its expectations by showcasing the best.
Without doubt, Dubai is perfect for tourist’s attraction and a vibrant summer holiday city. It is a home to iconic landmarks and some of the best attractions in the world such as incredible Burj Khalifa, reputed to be the tallest building in the world, Burj al Arab (the only seven Star hotel in the world), Dubai Fountain,The Dubai Mall, Atlantis Hotel which houses the biggest aquarium in the world, Jumeirah Beach and the Dubai Museum, among others. Boasting a bounty of exquisite hotels and resorts, a first timer’s stay in the country is sure to be nothing but spectacular. This year’s ATM nonetheless, broke all previous records with over 2,700 exhibitors, 68 nationals pavilions, 40 seminars and technology theatre sessions and 21 ,000 trade visitors who witnessed the four-day event. The Arabian Travel Market was also an avenue for Dubai government to communicate with the industry, celebrate the travel and tourism industry, share successes and outline future plans for its Tourism Vision 2020 when it will welcome over 20 million visitors.
World’s Most Visited City
Dubai’s ambition to become world’s most visited city is very obvious with level of development going on in the country. Now, a visitor’s experience in the country is pleasant as Tourism Vision 2020 provides clear focus for growth and development. One year into the delivery of Dubai’s ‘Tourism Vision 2020’, significant first steps have been taken to achieve the target of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, leading the emirate’s authority to state a new ambition, which is for Dubai to become the world’s most visited city. Having announced the Tourism Vision 2020 last year, the department of tourism and commerce marketing talked about the achievement made so far based on the collective commitment from industry stakeholders to sector growth and development; demonstrate continual enhancements and evolution of the city’s destination offering; and preview a new marketing blueprint designed to further raise emirate’s international profile.
The plans according to the Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Issam Kazim, said he would ensure both continual development of the destination offering and the country’s position and Dubai’s position around the world as a must-visit destination. He described the Tourism vision 2020 as a framework which gives a clear and collective focus, adding that it has been embraced by both government departments and the private sectors.
According to him, “during this year’s ATM, the Dubai presence and the exhibits and announcements of our stakeholders will demonstrate that while the city is already seen as a must visit destination, a continuous drive to innovate will lead to a constant reinvention of the visitor experience, creating one that is unrivalled anywhere else in the world. It is this collective industry commitment that makes us confident that we will be able to achieve our targets of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, and inspires the ambition to eventually become the world’s most visited city. ”
With Dubai being named as a top destination to visit by both the New York times and the Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice award, a key focus of the past year for DCTM has been the creation of a new marketing blueprint that will ensure that this status is enhanced and that the rate of growth in guests continues its strong trajectory.
Emphasizing the new approach based on the research into the needs, requirements and wants of leisure and business travellers, Kazim said, “Leisure travellers are increasingly seeking holiday destinations that provide a variety of distinctive, enriching and exceptional experiences. Across every component of Dubai’s offering, we will continue to ensure that we provide this and will we communicate it throughout all our marketing activities.”
Indeed seen as a must-see city, a representative of Emma Properties which built the Burj Khalifa and other properties downtown Dubai, Mr. Byron Kraemer affirmed that Dubai has been able to attract tourism over the years, adding, “In 1998, most of the buildings we have today doesn’t exist then. So with all the hotels and the sporting event such as cricket as well as emirates; a global brand also coming up will go a long way in boosting tourism in Dubai.” Emphasizing on the tallest building in the world, he said, “It is amazing that we have the tallest building in Dubai and probably 20 years ago people never thought of Dubai. The Ruler of Dubai sees things that people don’t. He puts the money in the right places. Everything that the government does is top notch. That is why Dubai is what is today. It is passion that makes Dubai what it is.”
He said Nigerians have been coming to the UAE to invest in properties such as hotel apartments and service residences, adding that these are easier to manage.
Kraemer noted that a bedroom apartment could go for as cheap as 1.2 million dirham, adding that anyone who is interested in investing in a property could come and inspect it and sign up to purchase. “Basically, you will come and look at the property, even if you don’t have a UAE residence visa. This means we will show you the investment and go through everything with you. If you like the property we are talking about, you sign up to purchase, and go home and transfer the money to us. We give you the bank details, it’s very simple. All you need is your passport and the bank account in Nigeria.”
A Show of Affluence
International expansion is an important part of the new roadmap for the tourism division. Many countries did not disappoint as they showed their interest in boosting tourism across boarder. Known for its oil-rich nature, the Middle East comprising United Arab Emirates (Dubai), Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and a host of others paraded stands that left many participants and guests amazed. From the interior to the exterior, everything expressed influence and affluence. The impact of Asian countries with their breathtaking stands could not be over emphasized either.
African countries such as South Africa, Mozambique, also were conspicuously present and displayed their cultural heritage. The Malaysians, Egyptians, were all captivating as they displayed the best of their beauties. With over 2,700 exhibitors’ presence in the Sun City, once again, the Arabian Travel Market has further strengthened international territories. For Nigeria, a country with a great economic outlook that is blessed with abundant tourism sites scattered across its regions, there is the need to think and act like Dubai for a prosperous future.