UAE to announce unified protocol to receive tourists


A new stimulus package will be announced in coming weeks as Abu Dhabi enters the Covid recovery phase.

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A unified protocol to receive international tourists to the UAE is getting ready and will be announced in next two weeks, said a top official from the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) – Abu Dhabi.

“We are working with the federal authorities and other emirates to have a unified protocol across the UAE,” Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing, DCT – Abu Dhabi, told Khaleej Times.

“This will be aligned with the federal authorities – the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority and the airlines that will also be looking into different networks and how we can do the plan together.

In two weeks we can announce the reopening plan for international visitors,” he added.

Al Shaiba noted that museums, cultural centres, hotels and public beaches in Abu Dhabi have already been opened for domestic tourists.

“Abu Dhabi is ready to welcome domestic tourists. We are hosting people from different parts of the UAE.”

Fresh stimulus package

A new stimulus package will be announced in coming weeks as Abu Dhabi enters the Covid recovery phase.

The tourism authority, he said, supported the industry for continuity of business.

“Since the beginning (of the pandemic) we have had meetings with the stakeholders and industry partners as well. We announced some measures like waiving off the taxes and tourist fees. In cooperation with the Department of Economic Development, we also waived off 20 per cent annual rentals and had been supporting them in terms of utility bills as well.”

A plan for the recovery phase is now getting finalised, which includes new support packages.

“We are working closely with our partners, stakeholders and industry to have different plans for recovery. We are finalising with the government now and it will be announced very soon. We will have different stimulus packages for the industry.”

2019 level not before 2023

However, Al Shaiba said a recovery to 2019 level will not be possible before 2023 and among different factors, a lot depends on a vaccine for Covid-19.

“Vaccine is the most important thing. If a vaccine will not come in next few months, it will have an impact on the tourism industry globally. We are not expecting to go back to the baseline of 2019 until maybe the beginning of 2023. So that’s how we see it today with all the data we are gathering and analysis we are doing as well. If a vaccine is announced very soon, this will change and recovery will be faster. But for now everything is giving an indication that Q1 of 2023 will be when we go back to the 2019 numbers.”

Etihad Arena to open in October

The 16,000-seat multi-purpose Etihad Arena will be open in October.

“It was supposed to be opened in April but because of Covid-19 situation and lockdown, it got delayed. We are expecting to open now in October. It will be a multi-purpose arena to host sports activities, shows and other events. It is a good addition to Abu Dhabi’s assets while we are hosting global events in Abu Dhabi in next few years.”

Three-phased recovery plan

A three-phased strategy is planned to revive the tourism sector. There will be promotional campaigns announced in the next few weeks.

“The first phase will be targeting the domestic tourists from Abu Dhabi and other emirates. There will be different promotions like staycations, tourist passes across the attractions and offerings for dining and shopping as well,” Hassan Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing, DCT – Abu Dhabi, said.

“Then we will move to the next phase of international visitors. It depends on the travel restrictions. We might target different markets with different messaging based on the travel restrictions.”

“Phase three will be going back to normalisation where it will be a global kind of promotion. It will help increase awareness about Abu Dhabi worldwide and also bring more visitors to the emirate.”

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