'World's coolest winter': Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid launches UAE-wide domestic tourism strategy

Vice President and Ruler of Dubai wants to double Dh41bn domestic tourist market by 2030

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From kayaking in Hatta to the Unesco World Heritage sites of Al Ain, people are being encouraged to explore the UAE this winter.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, on Saturday launched the UAE-wide campaign to get everyone out and about.

It is part of a wider unified tourism strategy to promote the UAE as one destination and is being kick-started by a 45-day "world's coolest winter" campaign to get more people exploring the country in the next few months.

The plan aims to double by 2030 the annual Dh41.2 billion ($11.2bn) spent on domestic tourism and encourage staycations.

The "world’s coolest winter" invites people to explore the hidden gems of the seven emirates and during its 45-day run - overseen by the Ministry of Economy in collaboration with local tourism entities - it aims to highlight the landmarks and attractions that distinguish every emirate and contribute to the UAE as a single destination.

A video posted by Sheikh Mohammed to social media showcases the breadth of activities available from boating to hiking to dune-bashing.

"We ... launched a unified tourism identity to promote the UAE as a single tourist destination that shares the same national economy and provides equal opportunities for UAE youth," said Sheikh Mohammed.

"Working as a single Emirati team in the tourism sector will have good effects on all regions and strengthen our global reputation as one destination, diverse and rich."

The UAE has been cautiously reopening to tourists following its successful response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dubai was among the first global destinations to reopen in July with stringent safety measures in place.

Gazelles roam the sandy dunes at the desert oasis of Al-Ain, in the United Arab Emirates, on November 14, 2020. (Photo by Karim SAHIB / AFP)
Gazelles roam the sandy dunes at the desert oasis of Al-Ain, in the United Arab Emirates, on November 14, 2020. (Photo by Karim SAHIB / AFP)

Harnessing the power of domestic tourism is also crucial to building a balanced industry post-coronavirus. The UAE’s domestic tourism sector contributed Dh41.2bn to the national economy in 2019. It constitutes 23 per cent of the total tourism sector revenue, compared with 77 per cent of shares taken up by international tourism. As part of the new strategy, the country aims to double the domestic tourism revenue and achieve a greater balance between the two forms of tourism by 2030.

"With a solid federal collaboration, we can double the contributions of the domestic market and create new opportunities for the small business industries across the country," said Sheikh Mohammed.

"Each of the seven emirates features rich tourist experiences, massive resources and cultural, archaeological and architectural treasures. We aim to unify our efforts to maximise returns."

Sheikh Mohammed said an Emirati winter was something to enjoy and he encouraged everyone to do so.

"The UAE has the most beautiful winter, it has the most beautiful people and it has the most beautiful services that any tourist can enjoy. I invite everyone to travel in the Emirates and explore the spirit of the Emirates."

The winter campaign aims to encourage families and friends to embark on outdoor adventures across the country. The campaign brings together citizens and residents from different nationalities, cultures and interests towards discovering the UAE’s hidden gems.

As part of efforts to promote an active lifestyle, the campaign will also highlight different outdoor sporting events and festivals such as watersports, hiking, jogging, cycling, mountain biking, camping, desert safaris and beach picnics.

Mohamed Al Mubarak, chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said the announcement of a unified tourism strategy was exciting and significant.

"With our seven Emirates joining forces to leverage our combined value proposition, and working hand in hand with our partners, innovators, the creative industry and our nation's youth, we look forward to further raising the UAE's global tourism profile." he said. "Together, we will work towards our collective goal of continuous progression within the tourism sector."