Bosses at the only hotel in Expo City Dubai have predicted a surge in visitors this week as the legacy site prepares to open its doors to the public once again.
It was revealed on Monday that guests could officially return to the rebranded Expo City Dubai — previously Expo 2020 Dubai — from Thursday.
Paul Bridger, chief operating officer of Rove Hotels, told The National the announcement had sparked increased demand for the 336-room hotel, which is the only one on the site.
He said the majority of those who had contacted the hotel and the company’s call centre were asking what attractions would be open to the public from Thursday.
“We’ve seen a lot more interest from the general public since it was announced the site would reopen on Thursday,” said Mr Bridger.
“Most people are asking if the hotel is open and what is available on site and how they can get around.
“The majority of calls [are coming] from those within the UAE but we’re expecting that to change as tourists start to come in bigger numbers [later this year].”
Expo City Dubai will officially open to the public on October 1 but organisers said visitors could take an earlier-than-expected look at the site from this week.
So far, two of the anchor pavilions, Mobility and Terra, are confirmed as being accessible to the public from Thursday, as well as the Garden in the Sky, which offers 360-degree views of the site.
The opening is part of a phased launch of the legacy site, which will act as a successor to Expo 2020 Dubai, which ran for six months before closing at the end of March.
“There has been great interest from the public constantly asking when they can come back and look at the pavilions and the attractions they enjoyed during expo,” said Mr Bridger.
“We’ve had people stay with us over the summer because they actually enjoyed the Expo site so much when it was open. Guests at the property were still able to enjoy tours of the site on buggies after it closed in March.”
He said occupancy at the hotel had remained strong, around the 50 per cent mark, despite the summer heat and the end of the world’s fair.
Most of the guests currently staying at the property are those who wanted to revisit the site, as well as people working on the project’s rebirth as Expo City Dubai.
“Opening in September is going to be the first step in creating a major tourist attraction,” said Mr Bridger.
“I think it might need a little time but it should take off by Q4 as things ramp up and more attractions and events are announced.”
Another hospitality expert said it could be two years before the site reaches its full potential.
“I think it’s going to take a couple of years before it has really planted its feet,” said Naim Maadad, founder and chief executive of Gates Hospitality.
“What you will see in the short term is people enjoying the legacy of expo but I think it’s about 24 months away from being fully developed and positioned.
“At the minute it is not fully developed commercially or as a residential location.”