Saturday 16 October 2021 - 9:44:56 am

Emirates Tourism Council reviews harnessing resources, promoting foreign, domestic tourism

ABU DHABI, 21st August, 2021 (WAM) -- The Emirates Tourism Council has reviewed the latest efforts made to boost domestic and foreign tourism in the UAE.

This came at its third meeting chaired virtually by Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs and Chairman of the Council, in the presence of local tourism officials to discuss the updates on tourism development efforts in the UAE and the key national initiatives that were launched during the previous period to boost tourism activities in the country. A report was presented to Al Falasi on the key indicators in hospitality and tourism industry during the first half of the year.

The council has approved a joint action plan of the Ministry of Economy and local tourism departments. The joint initiative aims to increase the inflow of international tourists to the UAE as well as open new tourism markets to attract tourists. The plan includes large-scale promotional campaigns targeting several promising destinations that could drive tourists to visit the UAE, introducing the long-term and multiple-entry tourist visa recently announced by the government, and promoting the country's distinctive tourism destinations, recreational activities, and services.

Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi said: "The tourism sector was able to achieve outstanding performance rates and enhanced the level of recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis to stand today and move towards a new stage of growth and development to further increase its contribution to supporting the national economy."

Al Falasi highlighted that with the support and directives of the country’s wise leadership and the relentless efforts across the country to distribute Covid-19 vaccines on a large scale and at a rapid pace, more than 83 per cent of the residents have been vaccinated which has strengthened the country’s ability to contain the pandemic and sped up its recovery and growth rates in various sectors, foremost of which is the tourism sector. He commended the great efforts and the continuous cooperation and coordination between local tourism authorities and various departments to revitalize and develop the UAE tourism sector.

He explained that the results achieved during the last 12 months provides a strong foundation to increase the number of tourists entering the country during the Expo Dubai 2020, noting that the outputs and plans that were agreed upon during the council meeting are important as they offer advanced solutions and initiatives which can help open new markets and enhance the country's position on the global tourism map as one of the world's best and safest sustainable tourism destinations.

He stressed the importance of the recently developed national initiatives to advance the tourism development process in the country, specifically the long-term and multiple-entry tourist visa initiative, which will greatly contribute to enabling greater numbers of international tourists to visit the UAE and enjoy the distinguished tourism experience and services that the country offers to its visitors from all over the world.

The council also adopted a coordination system at the federal and local levels to develop new and integrated initiatives and solutions where all the emirates’ tourism sector can benefit from the hosting of the Expo Dubai 2020 in October 2021. The global event expects delegations from more than 190 countries to be arriving in the country throughout the exhibition period.

Emirates Tourism Council also approved the practical steps for joint planning of upcoming domestic tourism campaign during the winter season in the country, including the proposed innovative initiatives and events. Furthermore, it agreed on the process to support the gathering of tourism data in the country aimed at promoting proactive tourism development efforts. The tourism sector reported remarkable growth after hotels experienced increase in occupancy rate of 62 per cent during the first half of 2021 compared to 53.6 per cent reported during the same period in 2020, while total revenues reached AED 11.3 billion, compared AED 8.6 billion in the corresponding period. The total number of hotels guests during the first half of 2021 reached 8.3 million guests nationwide, a 15 per cent increase compared to the same period of the previous year.

The number of hotel guests from within the country as part of the domestic tourism activities reached to 2.3 million during the first half of this year (2021) compared to 1.3 million hotel guests during the same period in 2020, recording a high growth rate of 77 per cent.

He emphasized the importance of the recently developed national initiatives to advance tourism development in the country, specifically the long-term and multiple-entry tourist visa initiative, which will greatly contribute to enabling greater number of international tourists to visit the UAE and enjoy high-quality tourism experience and services that the country offers to its visitors from all over the world.

The Emirates Tourism Council further discussed aspects of its internal and external tourism promotion aimed at attracting visitors from key tourism markets, as well as the plans to launch various tourism promotional campaigns during the year to introduce leading tourism spots in the UAE and unique tourism destinations and services. This comes along with plans to introduce new initiatives that would enhance the country’s attractiveness as a destination and contribute to gaining more tourists, whether in the short term as part of the Expo 2020 experience, or in the medium and long term, which will strengthen the UAE’s position as a leading and sustainable tourism destination in the region and across the world.

The meeting also discussed the achievements of the ‘The World’s Coolest Winter’ campaign, which was initiated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the plans to boost local tourism activities for the upcoming winter season in the country. Following the success of the ‘The World’s Coolest Winter’ campaign, the council suggests focusing on including new and innovative activities and initiatives that contribute to increasing domestic tourism activities to grow the share of domestic tourism to the total tourism revenues at the national level.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship presented the recently launched initiative regarding the issuance of the five-year multi-entry tourist visa. This initiative is major move towards shaping the future of tourism in the UAE and contributes to opening new markets, attracting more tourists from various parts of the world. This initiative also supports the direction of the UAE in facilitating and expediting the procedures for various categories of visitors, whether from inside or outside the country, where tourists of all nationalities can apply for these visas through the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship website, regardless of their location and without the need for a local sponsor. This visa also allows the holder to choose to come to the country for tourism throughout the year and stay in the country for a period of up to 180 days. The details of the virtual work residence permit and the process for applying and benefiting from them, which were launched in March this year, were also discussed.

The Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Center reviewed the current situation and indicators related to tourism data and the proposed initiatives to support services aimed at gathering tourism data in the country and enhance the transparency in data collection and sharing. This aims to help identify challenges in the current situation and build on for the future that would enhance the sector’s competitiveness. The availability of tourism data is expected to contribute to enhancing the country's position as a leading global destination and enable the public and private sectors to innovate solutions featuring one-of-a-kind tourism products and distinctive Emirati tourism programs which give high levels of satisfaction and happiness to the country’s visitors.

WAM/Hatem Mohamed/Tariq alfaham