Attractions of Dubai & Expo 2020: An exploratory study

Attractions of Dubai and Expo 2020: An exploratory study
Dr. Sunitha K. Haneef
Assistant Professor
MAHE Dubai Campus
Email: [email protected]
Dr. Zakiya Ansari
Assistant Professor
MAHE Dubai Campus
Dr. Ganga Bhavani
Assistant Professor
MAHE Dubai Campus
Structured abstract
Purpose
The purpose of this study is to provide context to the evolution of tourist attractions in Dubai,
retrospectively learn from the experiences of the Milan and Shanghai Expos and to highlight the
tourist attractions of Dubai Expo 2020. In so doing, the paper also seeks to understand how
attractions play a role in shaping the growth of the tourism and hospitality sectors in Dubai.
Design/methodology/approach
Data for this paper was gathered from primary and secondary sources. Informal discussions with
officials of Expo 2020 generally and tourism stakeholders in particular who were willing to
participate in this study, form the core of the primary data reflected in this paper. These
discussions, which span a period of four weeks, were transcribed for later study and analysis.
Findings
First, the tourism industry, the bedrock of Dubai’s economy, has witnessed remarkable growth
during the period 1990 to 2015 and beyond due to its rich tourism infrastructure comprising hotels,
tourism activities and tourist attractions. Second, it is important that Dubai Expo draws from the
experiences and expectations of prior events and can apply lessons learnt from the Milan and
Shanghai Expos. Third, Dubai Expo 2020 can enable Dubai to build on its established image of
excellent infrastructure, attractions, hotels, affordable amenities, easy accessibility and highlydeveloped
air and road transport systems.
Research limitations/implications
Even if lessons learnt from the Milan and Shanghai Expos are taken into account, they may not
help in preparing for unforeseen circumstances and areas of failure – though they provide a guide
in relation to the conduct of a mega event.
Practical implications
Dubai Expo 2020 can enable Dubai to build on its established and broadening global appeal.
Social implications
Employment prospects will be enhanced by Expo 2020 that will project an image of Dubai as a
world tourist destination to a far greater extent than it has done so to-date. Social changes may
also occur due to cultural exchanges during the Expo 2020 period.
Originality/value
The paper discusses how strategic planning for new attractions combined with the existing
attractions will help spread awareness of Expo 2020. The observations made from this study can
be used by other nations hosting similar events in similar geographical areas, to help prepare and
draw on prior experience and lessons learnt.
Keywords: Dubai Expo, Attractions, Expo 2020, Tourism, Hospitality.
Introduction
As one of the world’s largest economic sectors, travel and tourism creates jobs, drives exports,
and generates prosperity across the world. The United Nations designated 2017 as the International
Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (UNESCO, 2018). This international year provides
an enormous opportunity to further showcase the tremendous economic, social, cultural,
environmental, and heritage value that the sector can bring.
Dubai has become an important destination for regional and global tourism, rising to prominence
as a top location for shopping, leisure, sporting events, international conferences and media events.
In addition to its strong services sector, Dubai has built state-of-the-art facilities and tourism
infrastructure. Increasing growth of tourism has also impacted the enhanced tourism
infrastructural facilities. Moreover, with an increasing number of tourists, the government of
Dubai is prioritising the development of sectors and industries associated with tourism. Overall,
the success of Dubai yields insights as to how a state with an imperfect supply of conventional
natural and cultural attractions has emerged as one of the most popular international tourist
destinations.
As Expo events are global in nature, they aim to educate the public, share innovation, facilitate
progress and foster cooperation (BIE, 2018). Expos are generally used as tools to enhance a city’s
entertainment, transport, technology and cultural sectors and eventually aid in the city’s urban
development. Such Expos are visited by millions of people from tourists to business, government
and public sector representatives. Expo, a coveted event of international repute, will now be hosted
by Dubai after it had won the bid in 2013. Expo 2020 is a major global attraction and has the
potential to provide a host of other attractions.
Dubai, the host city of Expo 2020 is unarguably a potential tourist attraction not just in the Middle
East but globally because of its geographical position and unique physical attractions. Any tourism
product that is created, flourishes only because of its ability to attract people to visit and experience
the product. Every visitor who experiences an attraction has a certain experience. This experience
depends on the activity that is selected. According to Laurent Botti et al, (2008), it is possible that
an attraction the tourist thought of beforehand as a ‘secondary’ attraction can become a ‘primary’
attraction. According to Adi Weidenfeld (2010), major attractions can have both high and low
levels of iconicity and these may be lost or gained over time – depending on factors such as the
quality of the tourism product, over-crowding, deterioration in quality and new competitors.
Dubai, endowed with outstanding tourist attractions, an ideal geographic location and welldeveloped
infrastructure is well suited to hosting a large-scale event. Thus, Dubai Expo 2020 holds
the promise of being a potentially significant attraction and this warrants a thorough understanding
of how best it should be designed, implemented and sustained.
The aims of Expos are essentially to raise awareness on and find solutions to global challenges.
For instance, Shanghai Expo 2010 had its theme as ‘Urbanism’, while Expo 2015 Milan had its
theme as ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. Aligned with such global themes are the themes
of Dubai Expo 2020, ‘Mobility, Opportunity and Sustainability.’ 2017 is the year when design is
being taken off paper and brought to life”, as the various infrastructure projects are fully underway
(BIE, 2017). The countdown to Dubai Expo 2020 has begun.
The objectives of this descriptive research study are as follows:

  1. To explore the evolution of tourist attractions in Dubai
  2. To conduct a retrospective study of Shanghai and Milan Expos
  3. To highlight the tourist attractions of Dubai Expo 2020
    The objectives of this paper have a common focus – they aim to explore how Expo 2020 promises
    to be a major attraction. In doing so, the researchers have traced the evolution and the role of
    major attractions in drawing visitors to Dubai and lessons learnt from Shanghai and Milan in
    drawing parallels between the trends, attitudes and preferences of visitors and the success of their
    Expos.
    Organization of the study
    This paper is organized as follows: We begin with the objectives of the study its organization and
    purpose, followed by the methodology and theoretical ackground which sheds light on the tourist
    attractions in Dubai and discusses the Milan and Shanghai Expos. Findings and discussion follow
    this with conclusions and a concise summary of recommendations.
    Purpose of the study
    With preparations and activities underway for Dubai Expo 2020, Dubai is gearing up to anticipate,
    design and present the key features of Expo 2020. The purpose of this study is to familiarize the
    reader with the evolution of tourist attractions in Dubai, retrospectively, learn from the
    experiences of the Milan and Shanghai Expos and to highlight the tourist attractions of Dubai
    Expo 2020. In doing so, this paper also attempts to understand how attractions play a major role
    in shaping the growth of the tourism and hospitality sectors in Dubai.
    Methodology of the study
    Data for this paper was gathered through primary and secondary sources. Informal discussions
    with officials of Expo 2020 in general and tourism stakeholders in particular who were willing to
    participate in the study, form the core of the primary data reflected in this paper. These
    discussions, which spanned a period of four weeks, were transcribed for later analysis. Secondary
    data was also gathered from previous studies in this data-collection process.
    Theoretical background
    The current study is supported by a theoretical background discussing the tourist attractions,
    tourist attractions in Dubai and evolution of tourist attractions in Dubai from 1990 to 2020. The
    study later also discusses the progress of Dubai’s Tourism infrastructure (Hotels, Tourism
    Activities and Tourist Attractions), The Shanghai and Milan Experiences and finally ends with
    Expo 2020.
    Tourist attractions
    Customer’s interest and purchase behaviour have transformed dramatically in recent years due to
    the variety of products and services offered in different parts of the world and due to the
    tremendous communication boom that today’s consumers are exposed to. Consumers have
    become more demanding and more difficult to impress and attract as offerings are considered to
    be basic and are expected from every service or product provider, and the experience the customer
    goes through is the differentiating value received. (Vel et al 2014). Further, destination attractions
    represent a complex sector of the tourism industry and are often the catalytic focus for the
    development of tourism infrastructure and services (Alan, 2008).
    A tourist attraction is a place of interest which tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited
    natural or cultural value and historical significance, offering leisure, recreation, adventure and
    amusement. On the other hand, the term tourist destination refers to the geographic area that is
    different from the place of the permanent residence of a tourist, where tourist activity is
    implemented and tourist products are consumed. It is possible to define it as a location of tourist
    consumption. Many researchers have attempted to evaluate and classify destination
    attractions/resources as tourism products (Pearce, 1991; Hu & Ritchie, 1993; Smith, 1994;
    Murphy, Pritchard, & Smith, 2000; McKercher et al, 2004; Haneef. S, 2017)
    Research on tourist attractions has been undertaken from different approaches and with different
    definitions of what an attraction is and how it functions. Attractions are the pivotal elements of
    tourism development; evidence shows that tourists are more likely to be motivated to visit
    destinations if they have resources that can satisfy their needs (Richards, 2006). Wanhill (2008a)
    used the term ‘imagescape’ to represent the attraction product concept. Imagescape condenses
    history and culture in time and space into marketable entertainment experiences (Wanhill, 2008b).
    According to Pearce (1991) a tourist attraction is a named site with a specific human or natural
    feature which is the focus of visitor and management attention. Kyle and Chick (2002) link
    attraction to the perceived importance or interest in an activity or a product, and the pleasure that
    is derived from its participation or use. Tourist attractions determine direction as well as intensity
    of tourism development of the specific tourist area. Swarbrooke (2002), pointed out that the
    attraction product is mainly experiential, consisting of both tangible and intangible elements.
    An attraction is any object, person, place, or concept that draws people either geographically or
    through remote electronic means so that they might have an experience. The experience can be
    recreational, spiritual, or otherwise (Milman, 2009; Rivera et al, 2009). In its widest context, an
    attraction includes things for the tourists to see and do but may also be services and facilities (Lew
    1987; Witt & Moutinho 1994). The growing interest in attraction competitiveness has no doubt
    brought more focus on the definition and description of the attraction product, and how visitors
    consider its different parts (Mehmetoglu and Abselsen, 2005).
    Visitor attractions form the most crucial component of a tourism product (Swarbrooke, 2002;
    Wanhill, 2003 and Leask, 2003; Richards, 2006; Peypoch and Solonandrasana, 2007). At the basic
    level, they provide the focus for tourists thereby drawing visitors to a destination; additionally,
    they serve as agents of change, social enablers and major income generators (Leask, 2003). Basic
    services, attractions and accessibility affect tourist satisfactions (Celeste Eusebio et al., 2011).
    Many tourism destinations contain natural, cultural and special types of attractions to draw
    visitors. According to Page and Connell (2009), the attractions sector consists of the built
    environment and the natural environment, in addition to cultural resources, products, festivals and
    events. Swarbrooke (1995) classifies attractions into four types: (1) natural, (2) man-made but not
    originally designed primarily to attract visitors, (3) man-made and (4) purpose-built to attract
    visitors and special events. According to (Prideaux, 2002) the process by which a site or event is
    transformed into a visitor attraction is tourism’s unique ability to turn natural or man-made
    resources into products that visitors must travel to consume. Thus, this compelling need to visit a
    place makes it a popular tourist attraction, like Dubai.
    When visitors, spending time and money come to Dubai for Expo 2020, they will do so with the
    primary objective of taking part in and enjoying a mega event, and, visiting the various tourist
    attractions of the host country becomes the secondary objective. Here attractions play a major role
    as they enhance the impact of events. In this context, Expos and other mega events bring abundant
    opportunities to host countries. The attractions/activities of the host country add value to these
    mega events in terms of providing the visitor’s leisure experience, site visits and quality time with
    family and friends in a new country. Visitors can relax by visiting different attractions in the host
    country either in the evenings or during their free time. There is a synergic relationship between
    the mega events like Expos taking place in a country and the attractions of that home country.
    Thus, the popularity and attractiveness of Dubai Expo 2020 to a visitor, garners more value due
    to the prospect of visiting the country as a tourist too. As a consequence, the attractions, in general,
    of Dubai, will have a great impact on the attractiveness and popularity of Dubai’s Expo 2020.
    Tourist attractions in Dubai
    Over the years, Dubai tourism has become one of the major segments of Dubai’s economy. With
    Dubai emerging as the centre of attention, it has drawn visitors from far and wide. Dubai’s lure for
    tourists is based mainly on shopping; however, other ancient and modern attractions serve as
    minor attractions too. Dubai is also known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a
    lively nightlife scene.
    Of the multifarious attractions of Dubai, the most notable is the Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower,
    dominating the skyscraper-filled skyline. At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights
    choreographed to music. An equally stunning attraction is Atlantis, the Palm, a resort with water
    and marine-animal parks on man-made islands just offshore. To add to this is the rich attraction
    centre on its 64-kilometre-long coastline. This magnificent coastline has several high profile
    tourist resort centres for sailing, skiing, surfing, fishing, bird watching and golfing. Furthermore,
    Dubai is a fantastic fishing and sailing destination with abundant sunshine and a wealth of marine
    life. The desert city also provides tourists with memorable excursions from camel riding, sand
    skiing, dune driving, exploration of wadis (valleys) to visits to selected oases and forts. Dubai has
    an extensive network of shopping malls where global brands are readily stocked. In addition to
    the above, the industrial development of the city has, in the recent past, has attracted hordes of
    investors who also double as tourists.
    As noted earlier, Dubai is famous for its shopping malls, gold souks and top couture fashion
    boutiques and so has established itself as a shopping destination. This was further reinforced by
    Dubai’s shopping festival known as the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) during which more than
    3,000 retail outlets and 40 shopping malls offer significant discounts to attract more customers not
    just locally but internationally (Mydsf, 2016). Shopping festivals also give prominence to megaprojects
    such as The Palm, the Burj Al Arab and the Burj Khalifa. Dubai is now situating itself on
    the global map not just for business but as a major tourist destination. According to Anwar and
    Sohail (2004) the UAE is perceived to be a shopping haven and it attracts a large and growing
    number of tourists.
    In Dubai, development of the hotel industry is a top priority for government. Hotel rooms have
    more than doubled in the past decade and the number is fast increasing. Currently there are 555
    hotels of various types in Dubai of which 62 belong to five-star categories. (DTCM, 2016). Thus,
    Dubai is unarguably an exciting tourist attraction.
    Evolution of tourist attractions in Dubai from 1990 to 2020
    Dubai has emerged as an important tourist destination on the global tourism map. The region has
    become an epicentre of attraction for business people, tourists and shoppers. Statistics reveal the
    growing relevance of the region. About 14.3 million tourists had visited the region in 2015
    (DTCM, 2016). Dubai is the fourth most visited city in the world after London, Paris and Bangkok
    (UNWTO, 2016). Further, Dubai has the world’s highest visitor per resident ratio. It increased
    from 4.9 visitors per resident in 2009 to 5.7 in 2015 (UNWTO, 2016). Overall the success of
    Dubai has become a classic case of providing insights of how a state with an imperfect supply of
    conventional natural and cultural attractions has emerged as one of the best international tourist
    destinations. The following tables illustrate the progress of Dubai’s tourism infrastructure which
    has helped Dubai evolve as a major tourist attraction.
    INSERT TABLES 1, 2 and 3 HERE
    From the above tables, it is clear that Dubai’s tourism infrastructure, comprising hotels, tourism
    activities and tourist attractions witnessed a remarkable growth during the period 1990 to 2015
    and beyond. For one, hotels have tripled in number in the said period, increasing from 243 to 414
    (refer Table 1). Aside from this, tourism activities have more than tripled in number during the
    same period; rising from three in 1990 to 11 in 2020 (refer table 2). Tourist attractions, the
    cornerstone of Dubai’s economy have more than quadrupled – rising from three in 1990 to 13 in
    2020 (refer table 3). On account of the observations from the above discussion, it is clearly evident
    that Dubai, over the years has gradually risen as an unmistakable tourist attraction and is now one
    of the most desired tourist destinations in the world, thereby establishing a foundation for the
    destination image and organization of the Expo 2020.
    The Shanghai and Milan experiences
    Expos and mega-events are among the largest mass gatherings, attracting millions of visitors from
    across the world. Mega-events attract a greater flow of tourists and visitors to a particular country,
    though for short periods of time. These events have made host countries important destinations
    and have also had a long-lasting impact on the host country’s investments, facilities,
    accommodation, services and infrastructure (Sonia and Chito, 2017). Further, Expos provide
    various platforms to showcase and brand the country’s talents, customs and cultures.
    The Shanghai Expo 2010, in China drew 72 million visitors from 190 plus countries and so
    organizing an Expo of this scale was a challenge to Shanghai because of the volume of visitors,
    high temperatures, typhoon risk and the duration of the Expo over a six-month period (Zheng ‘an,
    Fan, Xiang, Chen, Yongchao, Hao, Mahany ad Keim). The Milan Expo 2015 drew some criticism
    and scepticism. It had already accumulated delays and additional costs and the expectations about
    its results had been downplayed several times from the initial forecasts; in essence, it was
    considered an unnecessary expense for the nation. ‘The Guardian’ newspaper published an article
    on 1st May, 2015 asserting that Milan’s Expo 2015 is the “most controversial world fair ever staged
    in Europe”. Almost €13bn to cover the cost of building and transport infrastructure to service the
    site, 10 miles from the centre of town was spent on this Expo.
    However, on a more positive note, when mega events are organized, tourism development receives
    an impetus and assumes a more significant role in terms of sustainability and the effectiveness of
    the development policies adopted by the organizing countries. The Shanghai World Expo, with
    the motto ‘Better City-Better Life’, set an example for community participation related to tourism
    development. The authors Lamberti, Noci, Guo & Zhu (2011), with the help of existing knowledge
    elicited significant data about community participation in tourism development in developing
    countries with reference to the Shanghai Expo 2010. Yu, Wang, and Seo (2012) collected data
    from 600 tourists who visited the 2010 Shanghai Expo; they tested it by developing an empirical
    model to analyze Chinese tourists’ perceptions towards the 2010 world Expo and the impact of a
    mega event on the host city and on visitor satisfaction. These authors found through their study
    that the Expo had a significant, positive impact on Shanghai but not vice versa. This study also
    emphasized the fact that Chinese tourists demonstrated loyalty to the host city and country and
    that they were very satisfied with the organization of the Expo. While community participation
    was an asset to Shanghai’s Expo 2010, with the theme, ‘Urbanism’, food was the major asset at
    Milan’s Expo 2015. It’s official theme: ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ was to showcase
    Italy’s greatest assets like cuisine, culture, tradition and diversity. This Expo was officially
    sponsored by corporate giants like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Apart from food there were many
    other attractions and visitors could participate in interactive games like ‘Lithuania or not?’ – a
    game that involved ‘swiping’ national dishes into a digital shopping basket. Most countries’
    exhibitions felt like a cross between a Waitrose advert and a travel agents’ trade fair – immersive
    multimedia dioramas of bountiful produce and spectacular scenery, dotted with stalls selling craft
    trinkets and samples of cheese. The authors Carlo, Canali, Pritchard and Morgan, (2009) found
    through their study that business tourism was a fundamental reason for Milan’s success and in this
    sense, the Milan Expo provides an example of an extraordinary level of Italian contribution in
    welcoming the world to their small country.
    As an established tourism destination, Dubai Expo 2020 will bring with it more testimonies to
    help raise and sustain the standard of Dubai’s economy. In a country which has risen
    phenomenally in a short period of time, the Dubai Expo 2020 brings with it the prospect of greater
    community development, lending further impetus to its tourism-rich economy. Alongside this fact,
    the retrospective study of Shanghai’s Expo (2010) and Milan’s Expo (2015) also reveals that Mega
    events and Expos are elaborate to organize and need contributions from each and every division
    in detail. While Shanghai Expo is an example to understand that mega events may not go as
    smoothly as planned because of the chances of it being jeopardized in any unseen manner, Milan’s
    massive investments and heavy expectations are also testaments to the fact that such mega events
    can fall short of catching the keen attention of the visitors. Some of the visitors during the Shanghai
    Expo expressed their unhappiness regarding queueing to visit most of the pavilions and the eating
    habits of Chinese in the open markets. Milan’s unfinished heavy investments and unorganized
    pavilions are some lessons to keep in mind. We hope these learning experiences will guide the
    conduct of the Dubai Expo 2020.
    Expo 2020 – Dubai
    Cities and places have become major destinations by taking the extra mile of creativity and
    offering a well-researched package of attractions through systematically planned events. Dubai is
    one of the leading cities in the Middle East in terms of innovation, creativity and development and
    Expo 2020 will boost the performance of the hospitality industry in Dubai in particular, and the
    UAE economy in general. It will also be an important platform for facilitating a global exchange
    of ideas, collaborations and partnerships across a range of industries and domains. The impact of
    Expo 2020 on Dubai’s economy will be significant as it will have a long term effect on the
    economic growth of Dubai and UAE.
    Tourism is a vital pillar of Dubai’s economy and has contributed to the city’s economic growth,
    success and diversification. With the strength of Dubai’s development in infrastructure,
    geographic location, and global connectivity, Dubai Expo 2020 can expect to attract 25 million
    visitors during the six months between October 2020 to April 2021, 71% of which are likely to
    originate from outside the host nation for the first time in Expo history (Expo 2020, 2018). Dubai
    Expo 2020 holds a great deal of promise for the UAE as the additional demand will generate real
    and exciting opportunities in employment, new attractions and incentives for the travel and
    tourism sector, not just for the UAE, but also for neighbouring countries in the region and beyond.
    In short, Dubai’s tourism infrastructure, comprising hotels, tourism activities and tourist
    attractions has witnessed rapid growth during the period 1990 to 2015 and beyond. Given this
    backdrop, Dubai Expo 2020 will provide further impetus to the tourism sector of an already
    established tourist destination. To obtain a better understanding of the major tourist attractions of
    Dubai Expo 2020, we gathered qualitative data via an informal discussion with officials associated
    with Expo 2020 and with service providers in tourism. The study has discussed below the findings
    and discussion that follow from this informal discussion.
    Findings and discussion
    Expo 2020 holds the promise of an event that people have probably not witnessed before. A ‘oncein-
    a-lifetime’ event of this magnitude has the potential to attract 25 million visitors from an
    incredible 180 countries. In order to collect as much information as possible about the organizing
    details of this Expo, the study required comprehensive information which was garnered through
    the informal discussions that were conducted with the Dubai Expo 2020 officials in general and
    tourism and hospitality officials in particular over a period of four weeks. The organizers say that
    it will have jaw-dropping infrastructure, technology, appeal and entertainment. The sheer
    magnitude and size is a key feature of Expo 2020. A whopping 4.38 square kilometres of land will
    house the innumerable buildings of Expo 2020. To put it in perspective, the amount of land that
    is planned for development is equal to 600 football fields. A venture of this magnitude will require
    four days to view the complete site of the Expo 2020. The officials of Expo 2020 are optimistic in
    their expectations that given the attractions of Expo 2020, the number of repeat visitors will be
    substantial. Dubai credited with having an outstanding image in terms of technology, tourism,
    cultural richness and natural beauty, is expected to be a successful destination for Expo 2020.
    Key attractions of Expo 2020:
    In addition to the size of the Expo are the types of buildings that will be housed in the Expo 2020.
    Every country will have a pavilion of its own, regardless of its size. Each pavilion will be decided
    based on a certain theme. Thus every country will have a theme-pavilion for itself. For instance,
    the UAE pavilion is shaped like a falcon and designed by Santiago Calatrava. The most unique
    thing about this is the movability of the wings of the falcon, which means the building will have
    the ability to move. Reminding one of a fidget-spinner, this mobility pavilion, is expected to be a
    crowd-puller during the Expo 2020. In addition to this Mobility pavilion is yet another attraction,
    the Sustainability Pavilion. This is a 100% self-reliant pavilion, which harnesses its own energy
    from the air. The self-sustainability of this pavilion is set to be a major attraction for visitors of
    Dubai Expo 2020.
    Since the successful bid for Expo 2020 in 2013, the organizers of Expo 2020 initiated detailed and
    systematic planning to schedule the attractions. A key feature of Expo 2020 is the planned legacy,
    wherein 80% of the buildings will remain on the site which will be re-named ‘District Smart City.’
    This is of particular interest to global companies like Accenture and Siemens who have put
    forward smart ideas and new plans to raise the level of innovation at Dubai Expo 2020. The
    remaining 20% of buildings will either be dismantled or rented out. For instance, Germany plans
    to rent out its pavilion after the Expo 2020.
    The collaboration between Expo 2020 organizers and allied partners will help to ensure that the
    event maintains its quality and appeal. Major sectors like transport, technology and entertainment
    will have globally popular names associated with them. For example, Emaar for Hospitality,
    Emirates and ENBD as premium partners, Nissan for transport, Accenture and SAP for technology
    and PepsiCo – all of which will help to strengthen the appeal of Expo 2020.
    Key features that will draw crowds are the package tours that will be arranged during this period.
    In addition to working closely with DTCM, the organizers will also liaise closely with the emirates
    of Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah in arranging and scheduling package tours. Some personnel with
    prior experience of global events such as the Olympics will help to facilitate smooth operation so
    as to ensure that visitors derive the best from their visit. Strategic and dynamic planning will
    include sensitivity to the needs of the visitors in such a manner that it is also economically viable.
    One such proposition is the customization of package tours to give the visitor a choice of food,
    entertainment and technological experience. An example scenario may be of visitors interested in
    the energy sector, the ocean and in Japanese food. These customized elements could best be
    included in a package tour which will arrange for a visit to Masdar (a solar-powered, carbon-free
    city in Abu Dhabi), a sea-side resort and visits to authentic Japanese restaurants. So, essentially it
    will be a tour which journeys through the Expo and beyond and delivers on a service promise.
    Another luring aspect of the Dubai Expo 2020 is the economic impact study which mentions the
    prospect of creating an additional 20,000 jobs after the completion of the Expo 2020, i.e. during
    the period 2021-2030. With 1,000 people currently employed, the nature of jobs created will be in
    very diverse fields-ranging from real estate construction to food and beverage, operations,
    management, cleaning, security etc. Yet another enticing feature of the Expo will be the creation
    of an Economic and Business district with new sectors like Tourism, Logistics and Big Data. This
    will in turn attract premium partners. In essence, Dubai Expo 2020 brings in its wake, a plethora
    of attractive benefits and cautious; so careful planning should set the stage for unprecedented
    success.
    Conclusion
    Expo, a massive platform to bring together people from all over the world is also an important
    event in terms of tourism development with the potential to create a positive destination image
    and to draw an immeasurable number of visitors. Key conclusions made from this study are 1) the
    host country of Expo 2020, Dubai, has a long, successful tradition of nurturing a tourism-rich
    economy. The tourism industry, the bedrock of Dubai’s economy, has witnessed remarkable
    growth through its rich tourism infrastructure comprising hotels, tourism activities and tourist
    attractions during the period 1990 to 2015 and beyond. This industry has grown phenomenally
    from 1990 to-date. 2) However, the conduct of such mega events requires an eye for detail in
    planning, organizing and implementing in order to ensure its success. Every minute detail like
    analysing the economic impact, jobs, volunteers, promotions, participants, invitations and so on
    needs to be scrutinized. There is every likelihood of unforeseen circumstances hampering the
    smooth conduct of an event. This creates a gap between expectations and results and so
    formulating the right strategies is crucial. Therefore, this paper attempts to mitigate this gap as
    much as possible by taking examples from the base studies of Shanghai’s and Milan’s Expos.
    Dubai Expo has to understand the experiences and expectations of these events and be ready to
    host its own Expo in 2020. 3) In addition to the Dubai Expo 2020, a landmark event for the
    business, tourism and technology sectors can help enhance the current tourist perception by
    crafting a new destination image of Dubai through the conduct of Dubai Expo 2020. It can build
    on its established image based on stunning attractions, outstanding hotels, affordable amenities,
    easy accessibility and a highly-developed air and road transport system making it an alluring
    tourist destination. This will help in projecting a better destination image of the host country and
    in multiplying the number of visitors to Dubai. In short, Dubai Expo 2020, a mega-event would
    provide real and exciting opportunities in employment, new attractions, and incentives for the
    travel and tourism sector for not just the UAE, but for neighboring countries in the region and
    beyond. The official image of Dubai Expo 2020 underpins the concepts of harmony, beauty,
    tradition, peace and friendliness and emphasizes on the unique qualities of Dubai and the
    attractions of Expo2020. The period after the Expo 2020 will continue to uphold these concepts
    and qualities in an effort to bring the world on a single platform united in spirit.
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    Progress of Dubai’s tourism infrastructure (hotels, tourism activities and tourist
    attractions)
    Table 1: Progress of hotel establishments in Dubai
    Establishments 2000 2005 2010 2015
    Hotels 243 300 382 414
    Hotel Apartments 74 107 191 211
    Hotel Rooms 24993 29834 51115 64878
    Source: Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Haneef.S, 2017)
    Table 2: Progress of tourism activities in Dubai
    Activities 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s
    1
    Desert
    Safari Desert Safari Desert Safari Desert Safari
    2 Sand Board Sand Board Sand Board Sand Board
    3
    Scuba
    Diving Scuba Diving Scuba Diving Scuba Diving
    4 Hot Air Balloon Hot Air Balloon Hot Air Balloon
    5 Ski Dubai Ski Dubai Ski Dubai
    6 Deep Sea Fishing Deep Sea Fishing Deep Sea Fishing
    7 Ifly Ifly
    8 Sky Dive Sky Dive
    9 Fly Board Fly Board
    10 Lego Land Lego Land
    11 Shark Safari Shark Safari
    Source: Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Haneef.S, 2017)
    Table 3: Progress of tourist attractions in Dubai
    Attractions 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s
    1 Burj Al Arab Burj Al Arab Burj Al Arab Burj Al Arab
    2 Global Village Global Village Global Village Global Village
    3 Dubai Creek Dubai Creek Dubai Creek Dubai Creek
    4 Palm Jumeirah Palm Jumeirah Palm Jumeirah
    5 Atlantis Atlantis Atlantis
    6 Dubai Mall Dubai Mall Dubai Mall
    7 Burj Khalifa Burj Khalifa
    8 Dubai Frame Dubai Frame
    9
    Butterfly
    Garden
    Butterfly
    Garden
    10 IMG world IMG world
    11
    Blue Waters
    Islands
    12
    Jumeirah
    Garden City
    13 Expo 2020
    Source: Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Haneef. S, 2017)

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