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Shady Elborno - Head of Macro Strategy
Published Date: 01 October 2020
Dubai’s tourism sector is gradually charting a path to normalization, after Covid-19 mandated significant lockdown measures in Q2 especially. Almost every subsector within the emirate’s wider tourism umbrella has been directly impacted by the pandemic, with operating capacity significantly curtailed as tourism flows dried up in Q2. Policy response to the pandemic was key, and the emirate has been very pragmatic in dealing with the fallout on the sector. It focused on a number of key priorities, the first being safety and health standards, followed by an early opening up the emirate, even as the dynamics of the pandemic remained in flux.
Dubai re-opened its doors to tourists July7th, allowing visitors from all normally permitted international destinations to visit. While official visitor numbers have not been published, we expect the pickup to be have been gradual, largely as global travel restrictions continued to evolve, with sudden tightening of restrictions by some countries on returning travellers. Regional tourism may also begin to recover in the coming weeks as Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Bahrain have recently reopened their borders, again with some restrictions.
We emphasise the theme of a gradual recovery as the path forward for Dubai’s tourism sector, post Covid-19. Normalization will remain tightly correlated to the development and global rollout of a vaccine and the resumption of global travel as governments around the world ease restrictions. The sector has, however, taken a number of decisive steps that have contained the impact of the pandemic and allowed for a stable ground on which to plan for the path to recovery, from targeting the domestic travel market to absorb slack capacity, to promoting hygiene and safety standards that have become industry norms. The path ahead remains challenging, especially as the situation concerning the pandemic remains in flux. However, decisive business decisions coupled with proactive policy response is key.
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