A COVID-19 vaccine is set to boost Dubai tourism quickly

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), HE Helal Saeed Almarri said that the economy of Dubai will be benefit immediately from the COVID-19 vaccine as confidence and travel demand rises.

The Emirate which is the commercial and financial center of the Middle East, has already seen a rise in travel bookings for the next two months as some of its source markets open up and safety-conscious travelers choose it as a holiday destination, head of the tourism department told at the occasion of Cityscape summit.

“I think it the vaccine impact is immediate,” Mr. Almarri said at the event conducted at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

“It is still not known when a global inoculation program will begin, but once that happens it obviously improves confidence, we have seen that in the public markets,” he added.

Mr Almarri’s remarks came on the day when the US biotechnology company Moderna announced its COVID-19 vaccine was 94.5 percent efficient against the virus in its preliminary late-stage clinical trial. Also, the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and the Russia’s Sputnik V shown more than 90 percent effectiveness in early trial results, according to the reports.

Drug manufacturers around the world are rushing to get a vaccine to market to support the world rebound from the worst pandemic in more than a century. More than 54 million people have been infected by COVID-19 and over 1.32 million have been killed.

Travel demand shows the sign of an uneven recovery as some markets are showing revival with the development of successful safety protocols eliminating quarantine requirements, even without the help of a vaccine.

In Dubai, which received nearly 70 million tourists last year the response of the Emirate in managing the pandemic and maintaining safety standards is driving the recovery of tourism, added Mr. Almarri.

Helal Saeed Almarri
Helal Saeed Almarri
Dubai Tourism

“Safety is on top of the travellers’ mind. We have seen that through booking and searches. The way Dubai has handled this pandemic and put peoples’ safety at the forefront of every decision, people are seeing that around the world and the reaction has been very, very positive. People are very eager to travel soon. We are seeing booking picking up for December and January very heavily. When you look at Dubai as a tourism destination, which last year received just under 70 million people, domestic tourism does not replace international tourism. But there is a big difference between having no tourism and operating at a large negative cash flow versus domestic tourism moving the industry towards the breakeven point, which is the key.”

He further added that the early move to open the Emirate with safety protocols to foreign visitors and the increase domestic tourism have both benefited the industry, but the overall figures are still low.

He added that domestic tourists “softened the blow” and supported tourism attractions and hospitality facilities to keep staffs employed.

“What I do expect to happen, especially 2021 being [the year of] Expo and all, is for travel to return and return strong. We have seen a very large interest in the new visa programs – with tens of thousands registering interest – and this is due in part to the attractive environment of living in Dubai,” he said.

Besides, the Emirate has seen a rise in various types of tourists, including applicants for a longer-term visa that enables visitors to work for their businesses remotely while living in the Emirate, concluded Mr. Almarri.