Expo 2020 will prove to be a new foundation for growing tourism in Dubai, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) chairman Gerald Lawless.
Lawless, also Head of Tourism and Hospitality at Dubai Holding, said, “We’re already talking about 20 million visitors by 2020. I have never seen Dubai set a target that’s achievable when it’s set — and then they go about achieving it.”
He added, “I don’t think we should be complacent in any way. One thing’s for sure — yes, 2020 is a game-changer for Dubai and the United Arab Emirates.”
He described the Expo win as a “coming-of-age” and a slick joint effort between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
“Dubai’s already on the map. It will stay on the map, too. If you think about any major urban area, like Hong Kong, like Singapore, they’ve got to keep working to ensure that it stays where it is, and to stay where it is it has to be world class. I think Dubai is world class — the infrastructure we have in Dubai at the moment is just beyond belief.”
Hitting the visitor target was not just a matter for Expo organizers, he said. “It’s everybody’s responsibility … It is for every hotelier, every aviation person, every tour operator — actually, the whole community of Dubai. It’s a challenge, but it is a challenge that’s achievable.”
Dubai had already earned itself an international reputation as a tourist destination, Lawless said, “but to stay on the map means you have to keep evolving, keep developing and you’ve got to keep getting better.”
“Beyond 2020. I would say, first of all, that gives us a new platform, a new level, a new foundation from which to develop. There will be even higher awareness of what’s happened. Dubai will always be ambitious.
“Dubai talks about the Olympics, for example, and why not? So there’s no reason why Dubai cannot achieve what it dreams to achieve, what it aspires to achieve, because if you don’t have the aspiration, you don’t have the ambition.
“I would say that the tourism levels that we will have achieved both before during and after World Expo will continue to evolve, will continue to increase, and Dubai has to continue to offer new and innovative reasons for people to come here. But they will come, and we already have the infrastructure of the airline, of the hotels, of the conference centres. It will continue to grow.”