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DTCM Hosts The GCC Tourism Conference 2013
(30 December 2013)


Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) recently hosted the GCC Tourism Conference 2013 - an annual travel trade event designed to promote Dubai’s destination offering to its Gulf neighbours. Held shortly before the commencement of the 19th edition of the Dubai Shopping Festival – a key attraction for visitors from the GCC -the two day event welcomed 130 CEO’s and top management of tour operators and travel agents from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

In its third year, the annual gathering is part of the DTCM strategy to increase the number of tourists from GCC countries and provides a platform to discuss growth opportunities in the region. Over the course of the conference, GCC travel agents and tour operators met with governmental and private entities in Dubai to gain an understanding of the Emirate’s destinationoffering and to generate fresh ideas on how to collaborate on further increasing visitors numbers to Dubai from the GCC, a region which already includes a number of Dubai’s top ten source markets.

Staged at the Conrad Hotel, the conference was attended by representatives from a number of DTCM’s key industry partners including Emirates, flydubai, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai Immigration, RTA and Dubai Shopping Malls Group. The agenda featured updates on new projects, tourism offers and packages; as well as panel discussions on partnership opportunities between Dubai’s tourism industry stakeholders and GCC travel agencies.

A key focus of discussion was how Dubai’s recent winning of the bid for Expo 2020 would stimulate growth in the region’s tourism industry. Welcoming the guests to the conference, Ahmad Khalifa AlFalasi, DTCM’s CEO of Support Services, stated:

“Expo 2020 will have a significant impact on the tourism industry of Dubai and the UAE, providing a unique platform on which to communicate the remarkable story of a young city and nation. But this is not just a landmark moment in our history – it is a landmark moment in the history of the GCC. Never before has our region hosted such a global mega-event. It is a platform which will allow us to positively shape global perceptions of the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East as a destination for both business and leisure. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that we will maximise to accelerate the growth of the tourism industry in Dubai, in the UAE, and in our wider GCC region.”

The opening speech was followed by a detailed presentation by Dr Ahmad Belhoul, DTCM’s CEO of Strategy and Tourism Sector Development, on the subject of Dubai’s Vision for Tourism 2020, which includes the headline target of welcoming 20 million visitors per year by 2020. Recent changes in legislation designed to help meet this target include the new decree to regulate Dubai’s holiday homes market, which will contribute to the growth of the tourism industry by broadening the range of accommodation available to visitors.

Jamal Humaid, Director, Dubai Cruise Tourism, DTCM, highlighted the recently announced collaboration between Abu Dhabi, Oman and Dubai to jointly promote the Arabian Gulf as a cruise tourism destination. The partnership was launched in late November with a regional roadshow and has the objectives of increasing the number of local residents who consider cruise as a holiday option; increasing awareness of the Gulf as a cruise destination; and to train and motivate regional travel agents to sell cruises sailing out of Dubai.

A key focus of the conference was Dubai’s thriving aviation industry and its role in increasing access into and around the region.

Discussing the role of Emirates in building GCC tourism, Ahmed HashimKhoory, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations West Asia and Indian Ocean at Emirates commented: “Today the airline connects 138 destinations in six continents. A total of 15 new destinations were launched in 2012, and nine new destinations in 2013, and today the airline serves 38 million Emirates passengers annually, with passenger growth figures set to increase to 70 million in 2020.”

SudhirSreedharan, Senior Vice President – Commercial Operations, Indian Subcontinent, GCC and Africa, flydubai, said: “flydubai sees the GCC as a very important market. We operate one of the most comprehensive networks in the region, with 15 points and more than 290 flights a week. We appreciate the efforts of the DTCM in supporting travel and tourism flows from our hub in Dubai and we hope that we can contribute by giving more visitors access to this dynamic and exciting city.”

Other speakers at the conference included IssamKazim, Director Commercial at DWTC, who gave a presentation on the MICE sector and the importance of conferences to business travel; andFarhad Mohammed Ali, Marketing & Communications Director of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), and Saeed Mohammed Alfalasi, Director, Strategic Alliance, DFRE, who shared details on the importance of the Dubai Shopping Festival to the tourism and retail sectors.

This is the third year that the GCC Conference has been organised and hosted by DTCM and its partners. Around 400 delegates have attended the conference since its inception.

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