Expo 2020 has been dubbed the “start of a new era” of tourism in Dubai as the emirate sees rocketing demand from British travellers over October half-term.
Dubai Tourism, Expo 2020 and Emirates joined forces for a UK travel agent webinar, in association with Travel Weekly, offering a glimpse inside the vast Expo site, which is equivalent in size to 600 football pitches and or twice the area of Monaco.
Shahab Shayan, senior manager for the UK and Ireland at Dubai Tourism, said: “I want to thank you for your patience, solidarity and continued support throughout these challenging times.
“Your understanding and cooperation have helped Dubai keep its position as the first-choice destination throughout this period.
“The hosting of Expo 2020 is amazing news and history in the making for Dubai, but it’s also the start of a new era in the tourism industry in Dubai.
“It has been a very exciting time here in Dubai in the last couple of months with numerous attractions and hotel openings coming up.”
Shayan said 85% of the United Arab Emirates’ population had now been double-vaccinated and that entry requirements to the country included a PCR test in the 72 hours prior to arrival.
He also highlighted the openings of the Address Beach Resort, Rove La Mer Beach and Hotel Riu Dubai, as well as the forthcoming Dubai Fitness Challenge, cricket’s T20 World Cup and golf’s Dubai Moonlight Classic.
Rob Spencer, senior sales executive at Emirates, reported a rapid rise in demand for Dubai from the UK.
He said: “Load factors are looking exceptionally strong through October half term. We saw a surge from early August. Once Dubai went from the red to what was the old amber list, we saw a spike and colossal intake which was fantastic.”
Spencer highlighted the rollout of a daily service from Gatwick starting on December 10, and a new premium economy cabin which is currently operating on some Heathrow-Dubai services (although fares for the latter are not yet available via GDS).
Mark Grossfield, senior manager of destination marketing at Expo 2020, and Kevin Partridge, head of communications for the UK at Expo 2020, also joined the webinar to offer insights into what to expect at Expo 2020.
Highlights include more than 60 live events per day, themed days dedicated to some of the 192 countries in attendance, and a food hall featuring cuisine from 40 African nations.
Grossfield said: “A lot of people probably think Expo is a very business-oriented event but I’m here to tell you that it actually is an event for everyone. We’re going after couples, families, the leisure segment, students, anyone interested in learning, and we’re also going after the business community because there is some strong programming around that.”
Expo 2020 is open from 10am until 12am Saturday to Wednesday, and from 10am until 2am on Thursday and Friday. It runs until March 31, 2022.