In 2020, the UAE will host the World Expo, which is held once every five years for the duration of 3-6 months. The history of expo dates back to 1851, when ‘The Great Exhibition’ was first held in London. Since then, different regions of the world have hosted it at regular intervals, but this would be the first time the event is being hosted in the MENA region.
Travel and Tourism sector will generate the most job opportunities
Dubai is strategically located within four hours of a third of the world’s population, and with the estimated 25 million visitors coming to the Expo, it would set a record for the largest number of footfalls, in the history of the World Expo. The airlines industry will see heavy traffic, and additional arrangements will have to be made to handle the large number visitors. Once the visitors reach Dubai, there will be a wide range of tourism opportunities, such as world-class museums within the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, luxury resorts on Saadiyat Beach, and entertainment at Yas Island.
The Tour and Travel operators expect to have huge surge in sales, and are planning for road shows, more branches, and extended services. To add to this, there are preparations for creating various other attractions in the city, such as a crocodile park in Dubai’s outskirts, a zoo and safari park, spread over 119 hectares, and traditional souks in Deira. Other plans include a Dubai Wetland Centre, near the Ras Al Khor flamingo sanctuary, a miniature park containing local icons, such as Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab, and a palm park with 5,000 species of palms as an educational botanical area . The Travel and Tourism sector is estimated to generate 40 per cent of the total projected jobs during 2013-21, and 59 per cent of the newly created jobs during the ramp up to Expo 2020, in the final 3 years.
Hospitality receives a major boost
Hotel occupancies in Dubai are regularly above 80 per cent, and to accommodate the large number of Expo visitors, it is estimated that 50,000 more rooms, from budget to luxury, would be required . According to Euromonitor International, the hotel inventory is expected to double, from over 82,000 in 2013 to around 164,000 rooms by 2020, and tourism receipts are projected to increase by 67 per cent, by 2018, with the MICE (Meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) industry contributing most to this increase. However, there is a risk of oversupply of hotel rooms, if the forecasted visitor footfalls do not materialize, or also if the tourist arrivals drops down after the end of Expo.