How Expo 2020 will benefit Dubai
Ahead of the November 27 announcement we ask what the title would mean for residents 2 Comments
Dubai played host to more than 10 million international visitors for the first time during 2012, according to official estimates, representing an increase of more than nine percent compared to 2011. Dubai’s hotels also reaped a bumper Dhs18.82bn (US$5.12bn) in revenues, a 17.9 percent year-on-year hike.
This is just the start of the glitzy emirate’s tourism push, however, as by the time the Expo is held in 2020 Dubai means to have doubled its visitor figures to a whopping 20 million annually (yes, it’s going to get much busier here). Much of this ambition will depend on whether it is awarded the rights to host the event come November 27.
Given that the Expo would be held over six-month period between October and April, one analyst believes that the positive impact on the emirate’s hospitality sector will be enormous, and even surpass that of the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
‘If Dubai wins the chance to host this event, I would expect the impact to be significantly greater for Dubai than hosting the FIFA World Cup would be for Qatar,’ says Guy Wilkinson, managing partner at Dubai-based hospitality consultancy Viability.
Figures from Dubai authorities estimate that winning the rights to host Expo 2020 will create a staggering 111,000 new jobs in the hotel and restaurant sectors.
Much of this work will be created by the new hospitality projects due to open their doors between now and 2020, including the more than 100 properties planned as part of the Mohammed Bin Rashid City megaproject.
Research by PKF (an international network of accounting and business advisory firms) based on data from previous Expo events shows that an additional 20 percent of annual international guest arrivals would come to Dubai over the six month period attracted by World Expo 2020.
PKF also predicts that hotels during the period will operate at more than 90 percent capacity, putting pressure on room inventory. However, a spill-over effect would benefit hospitality sectors in neighbouring emirates such as Abu Dhabi, PKF said.
A key pillar in Dubai’s Expo 2020 bid is the site in Jebel Ali itself, which will be spread over 438 hectares and developed with a raft of new hospitality and tourism facilities. One question that the emirate must address is what this infrastructure will be used for once the event has closed. Analyst Wilkinson says that this is one area that Dubai has a track record of success in.
‘Whatever is built for Expo 2020 must have a purpose beyond the event, and Dubai has proven itself well able to create new projects and districts that prove sustainable — just look at Al Barsha, which has grown up around the Mall of the Emirates since 2005, and is now a buoyant and thriving community,’ he notes.
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