How business tourism is driving post-coronavirus recovery in Dubai

The city’s coronavirus response is a major driver of traveller confidence, hospitality leaders say

Dubai is well on its way for a tourism comeback following its response to coronavirus, which earned the emirate the reputation of being one of the safest global destinations in the wake of the pandemic, according to industry experts.

This demand was most palpable in the last quarter of 2020 and into 2021 and was led by Israel and the European market, said Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, president MEA&T at Hilton.

Jochem-Jan Sleiffer, president MEA&T at Hilton.

“Amongst many of our most important markets, Israel is looking very attractive for business here. We talk to clients every day and the number one destination because of safety, and because we’ve shown the world that Dubai can do it, is Dubai,” said Sleiffer.

Back in the early days of the pandemic, the quick action and collaboration between the private and public hospitality industry stakeholders ensured a safe experience for hotel guests and employees, said Mark Willis, CEO Middle East and Africa, Accor.

In the wake of the pandemic, and as Dubai hosts more in-person events and exhibitions, business travellers are ensuring a consistent flow of demand with people eager to resume face-to-face interactions under the right safety measures, said Willis.

“Accor, like all the other brands, were very fast in putting exceptional protocols together in order to ensure safety of guests and safety of our employees which is absolutely paramount,” said Willis, speaking at the Dubai Global Events Re-opening Forum as part of a panel of key stakeholders discussing the success and experience of the emirate’s 12-month journey to create the biggest and safest comeback in the events industry.

Mark Willis, CEO Middle East and Africa, Accor.

“It was an absolute must that those protocols were in place in the year and that they were 100 percent observed at all times. But also, you want to still try and have a positive guest experience on a hotel level, and I think that is something that Dubai’s been able to offer extremely positively,” he continued.

This has been reflected in demand across the city’s hotels, said Willis, with travellers getting the message that “Dubai is open for business.”

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