COVID-19, short for “Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019”, has engulfed the world in its flames and has rapidly spread in every nook and corner. Within a few months, it has rightfully claimed the title of “pandemic” and has hit and affected almost all the economies globally.
The sectors that have been strongly disrupted by the transmission of Coronavirus include the retail sector, trade, travel and tourism industry, and hotel industry to name a few.
Just like Dubai’s inhabitants comprise diverse class of people, its economy is also diverse, unlike many other Gulf economies that are oil-based; Dubai’s economy is not oil-based. It primarily relies on tourism, hospitality, real estate, entertainment, and retail business.
In yesteryears, we have witnessed the rise of tourism in the United Arab Emirates, particularly in Dubai. In fact, tourism has now become the lifeline of this magnificent city, and contributes 11.5 % in the GDP. Tourists from all around the world throng the metropolis and enjoy the multiple means of amusement. In 2019, Dubai earned $28 billion from international tourism, with over 16 million tourists visiting the city, making it the third largest tourism earning city in the world, reported by the World Travel & Tourism Council.
Being the most visited city, Dubai’s tourism based economy is quite vulnerable. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the World Expo 2020 that was supposed to be hosted by Dubai, with an expected arrival of 20 million tourists from around the world, is also jeopardized.
The overall situation has been quite gloomy since mid of March 2020. Many of the hotels and restaurants could not sustain their businesses, and either had to shut their businesses or drastically cut their workforce.
The outbreak of Coronavirus has adversely impacted the Dubai Desert Safari. Primarily, the Aviation industry that transports the major number of international tourists to Dubai had to halt the airline operations. As a result, the world witnessed the Domino effect on Dubai tourism because it was directly linked with the Airline industry.
Desert Safari has always been the top priority of the visitors. The lively activities in the desert have had to be stopped for the safety of the tourists. All the fun activities in the safari, like riding SUVs & Quad bikes, and spending time in the camps, involve the close contact of family and friends. We are well aware of the significance of practicing social distancing in this pandemic. Hence the closure of the desert safari had to be witnessed.
Being the proactive and responsible state, Dubai’s administration has been devising COVID-19 Response Plans all along the devastating time of closure. They have been striving hard to make a comeback and have started opening places for domestic tourism in July.
While gradual opening of airports, tourist spots, shopping malls, and hotels, Dubai Administration has ensured to follow all the SOPs, including COVID testing, recording body temperature, sanitization, hygiene campaigns, and maintaining social distancing among the visitors. Due to these proactive strategies, the World Travel & Tourism Council has awarded the Dubai Administration with the Certification of Safe Travel.
Similar hygiene standards and health safety measures are being implemented and adhered to in desert safari activities, so that the confidence of the desert-loving tourists is restored. Thorough disinfection is being done at all the entry and exit points, in the vehicles that are used in the safari, and the use of gloves and masks have been made mandatory.
The Dubai Administration is quite confident and optimistic about the successful comeback. At the same time, they are realistic about the changed situation as well. They keep their expectations in line with the reality, and are not expecting as many tourists’ arrival as was in 2019. They believe that their humble approach of gradually opening domestic tourism is the key to coming back to international tourism.
Dubai is a proof that it is safe to travel again, provided the Administration has adapted to the New Normal lifestyle, and accepted the reality that COVID is there to stay.
Being the first to open tourism in the world right after the wake of Coronavirus, Dubai Administration is hopeful that the majestic city shall once again become the number one tourist destination in the world.