Kazim examines Dubai tourism growth at Expo 2020
The Travel & Connectivity Business Forum at Expo 2020 has offered a snapshot into the future of the tourism industry in Dubai, including how the power of travel and connectivity can contribute to a more sustainable future.
During the event – moderated by former news anchor Laura Buckwell and held at Dubai Exhibition Centre - Issam Kazim, chief executive of the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing identified the key factors in successfully shaping the tourism sector.
He homed in on technology, nurturing relationships with all stakeholders, being in tune with the youth of today and staying agile to expedite constantly evolving models.
Citing the relationship between the private and public sectors as pivotal to the sustainable visitor economy, Kazim said: “We listen to the private sector intently.
“If you look at the period during the lockdown, we had regular meetings to ensure everyone was kept updated in times of uncertainty, which is important for those who have invested in this city.
“This resonates strongly with them.”
With Dubai renowned as an incubator of innovation and technology, Kazim said that embracing every aspect of technology was important: “Many want to write some tech off as a trend that’s going to go away, but, over the past few years, we’ve seen these trends become a part of our foreign policy: what we do on a day-to-day basis.”
He said that engaging with youth and younger audiences, who are more attuned to the changes that are happening around them, is also critical: “You need to always remain young at heart, to always put your hand up, to realise you may not know everything, and to be open to new ideas and fresh thoughts.”
With the pandemic impacting our personal and professional lives, Kazim said that a positive creative turn has emerged in the UAE as a result, with a shift from tourists to visitors, and from visitors to residents.
Kazim continued: “We found ourselves in a position where a lot of people were stuck in Dubai because their country borders were closed.
“Our leadership extended their visas and told them to relax and enjoy their time in Dubai.
“There was also a huge pick up in people working from home, which gave us the impetus to fast track some of the concepts we’d been discussing for years, but hadn’t had the time to execute.
“We rolled out a remote working visa, which is quickly being picked up upon globally, and the UAE Golden Visa to encourage investors.
“Because of the way the UAE was managing the pandemic, a lot of companies turned their attention here, realising that the safety-first aspect, together with business continuity, is important to Dubai.
“We also looked at visas for professions such as doctors, engineers and architects who can relocate to Dubai and establish themselves here.”
The crux, Kazim said, lies in not only transforming tourism, but also convincing people to stay: “The programmes we have in place have started to leverage what we, as residents, already take for granted, as this being the best city to be in to innovate.
“It’s not just about getting more tourists into Dubai, but about creating a place that people want to reside in and set up shop.”