Mid­dle East & Africa

Talking with Dubai’s tourism am­bas­sador; Morukuru’s up­com­ing beach lodge in South Africa; Mama Shel­ter is com­ing to the UAE

Destination of the World News - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view: Steven Bond

Equal parts vi­sion and zeal, Is­sam Kazim is Dubai’s C-level tourism am­bas­sador, over­see­ing the PR, mar­ket­ing and strat­egy of the world’s most metic­u­lously branded desti­na­tion. The Emi­rati ex­ec­u­tive has helmed the Depart­ment of Tourism and Com­merce Mar­ket­ing (DTCM) since 2014, dur­ing which time vis­i­tor num­bers have soared like the city’s very own sky­line, but with in­creas­ingly am­bi­tious goals to draw even greater throngs, and a fierce sched­ule to ful­fil the vi­sion sur­round­ing Expo 2020, his plate has never been so full. We met at the side­lines of the re­cent Ara­bian Travel Mar­ket to find out more

From IMG Worlds of Ad­ven­ture to Le­goland Dubai and so much more, Dubai has evolved and de­vel­oped an ex­pe­ri­en­tial fam­ily of­fer­ing beyond the so-called “tra­di­tional lux­ury”. Are you con­fi­dent it can ex­cel with both?

We want to make sure peo­ple spend a longer time in Dubai, there­fore it has to be con­ve­nient and com­fort­able with ser­vice lev­els of the high­est stan­dard. We’re cre­at­ing an in­cen­tive plan to en­cour­age peo­ple to in­vest in the three­and four-star sec­tor, while not drop­ping the ser­vice lev­els, as peo­ple come with an ex­pec­ta­tion of such high stan­dards.

What plans are in place to help bol­ster ser­vice lev­els across the emi­rate?

We pi­loted a project to train a num­ber of taxi drivers to greet vis­i­tors and share in­for­ma­tion in spe­cific ways, leav­ing noth­ing to chance. Then we de­cided to cre­ate a pro­gramme called “The Dubai Way”, el­e­vat­ing the ex­pe­ri­ences you get with any five-star ho­tel with an added dif­fer­ence, bring­ing lo­cal, cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences into the mix. We also an­nounced we will develop part of the rocky moun­tain area of Dubai called Hatta, which has been very pop­u­lar with res­i­dents but less so with tourists.

You’ll ob­vi­ously seek to pre­serve the nat­u­ral beauty of Hatta, so what else will change there for vis­i­tors?

As well as tours guided by the in­dige­nous res­i­dents, we’ll be cre­at­ing new camp­ing sites and ex­pand­ing the moun­tain-bik­ing tracks. We have trekking tracks there, and ca­noe­ing where the dam is. The idea is to draw at­ten­tion to the lesser-known ar­eas; we talk about these ar­eas like the old souks but there’s a depth of knowl­edge that peo­ple aren’t aware of when it comes to them. There are also new de­vel­op­ments in and around the older parts of Dubai that will ex­tend the ex­pe­ri­ence, with more of a mod­ern of­fer­ing so that they won’t im­pact the tra­di­tional of­fer­ings that ex­ist al­ready.

There’s cer­tainly a con­stant evo­lu­tion, and we can ex­pect to see greater num­bers of cruise vis­i­tors – a pro­jected dou­bling of num­bers by 2020. What can cruise guests ex­pect?

This is some­thing we’ll be build­ing up strongly. A cruise ex­pe­ri­ence it­self can be un­be­liev­able but it needs to be matched with a desti­na­tion of­fer­ing that can match what’s on-board. That’s be­come a main fo­cus for us, en­sur­ing that vis­i­tors to Dubai have a va­ri­ety of op­tions. Peo­ple have such a range of in­ter­ests, and we’ve re­cently launched Dubai Parks and Re­sorts and IMG, both des­ti­na­tions within a desti­na­tion. So when cruise guests come to Dubai, what­ever the group size, there’s an in­creas­ing num­ber of op­tions around the city.


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