Lessons to be learned from Dubai’s management of the pandemic

Lessons to be learned from Dubai’s management of the pandemic

A new Dubai Economy and Tourism report assesses the emirate’s hospitality sector in the wake of Covid-19 

Though the tourism sector has experienced an unprecedented amount of uncertainty for almost two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dubai has served as an example to be followed by other destinations. From shutting down and reopening early, to hosting global-scale events and diversifying its positioning, key factors have led to Dubai’s recovery.

Key takeaway #1: Take Fast Decisive Action
Dubai was among the first markets to enter into a strict lockdown and implemented a zero-tolerance approach to transgressions. This enabled case numbers to stabilise and allowed the emirate to open its borders to international travellers as early as July 2020.

Key takeaway #2: Vaccinate Residents and Open Borders
Dubai government quickly rolled out a vaccination programme for all, while leading private sector hotel groups turned their ballrooms in vaccination centres for hospitality staff. Opening early and safely with a high- and-growing number of vaccinated residents ensured that Dubai was in a strong position to recover its international visitor numbers. As of October 2021, international visitation was at 72% of 2019’s pre-pandemic figures.

Currently, Dubai’s top 10 markets are Indian, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Pakistan, France, Germany, Oman, the USA and Egypt

Key takeaway #3: Host Global Events
While some markets were hesitant or simply weren’t authorised to host large-scale in-person events, Dubai’s high vaccination rates and strict safety protocols allowed sporting events, concerts, conferences and the highly anticipated Expo 2020 Dubai to go ahead. This had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the emirate’s hospitality sector, recording higher occupancy rates and RevPar figures than other major cities in its comp set.

Key takeaway #4: Attract Domestic Guests
With countries still closed and people unable to travel internationally due to restrictions, Dubai positioned itself as a mini-break destination for domestic markets. The emirate received 2.4 million more domestic visitors in 2021 than in recent years.

Key takeaway #5: Become a Gastronomic Hub
Food and travel have always been interlinked. Dubai recognised the value of its growing number of homegrown food heroes and diversifying its positioning of sun, sand and luxury to one that includes world-class gastronomy.

For more information and to see the full report, visit

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