Hopeful outlook for tourism in UAE as visitors plan many happy returns

Hard-hit industry must get ready to welcome back loyal travellers after emirate's ‘commendable’ tackling of pandemic

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Tourists who have visited the UAE are looking forward to a return even as the coronavirus pandemic cripples the travel industry, a new poll has found.

Among Germans, Britons and Swedes who have made a trip to the UAE in the past three years, more than 40 per cent say they intend a follow-up in the next year.

In France, 54 per cent of people - the highest number across the four countries surveyed - intended to return for another dose of the UAE's attractions, according to the fourth edition of a Covid-19 Opinion Tracker from KEKST CNC.

"Loyal tourists eager to return to the UAE is encouraging news for the UAE economy, as the country kick-starts the tourism industry after the COVID-19 standstill, "said Mazar Masud, director at KEKST Middle East.

However, the flip side of the optimistic intentions is that the majority of respondents are not planning to travel to the UAE in the next 12 months.

KEKST said that the people not as yet planning to visit were an opportunity, which it called a "significant market for UAE tourism authorities to try and penetrate".

Of those travellers who had visited the UAE, most had come for leisure.

After the coronavirus outbreak, Dubai and the rest of the Emirates took immediate steps to counter the threat of the pandemic. International flights were suspended, shops and restaurants closed and employees bar key workers were asked to operate from home.

The first international tourists to visit Dubai in almost four months landed in early July.

Leisure industry experts said they had seen a marked increase in reservations since the city announced it was reopening to international visitors.

As part of the national reopening, Abu Dhabi has confirmed that more than 100 hotels in the emirate are now designated as safe places to stay.

The Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi had 146 hotels in the city Go Safe certified hotel by July 23.

The Go Safe initiative is endorsed by the Abu Dhabi Government and guarantees that a hotel is meeting the required hygiene standards to minimise the spread of Covid-19.