Rescheduled Dubai Expo anticipates 25 million visits over its six-month event
Delayed until opening later this year because of the global Coronavirus pandemic, organisers of the postponed Expo 2020 Dubai are still confident that the six-month event will attract significant visitor numbers as well as boosting the GDP of the United Arab Emirates.
Despite concerns about the pandemic’s impact on global tourism, organisers anticipate that the six-month long Expo will attract more than 25 million visits - with more than 70% of those attending coming from outside the UAE.
Set to open on 1st October this year, Expo 2020 Dubai is to be the first World Expo held in the Middle East and North Africa and South Asian region, under the theme of ‘Connecting Minds Creating The Future’, and the sub-themes of Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity.
Like the Tokyo Olympics, the event, billed as ‘The World's Greatest Show’, was put back from its 2020 dates as the world was impacted, as it still is, by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to Arabian Business last week, Manal Al Bayat, Expo 2020 Dubai's Chief Sales and Marcomms Officer, reflected on the organiser’s journey, commenting “we started our bid journey in late 2011, but at that point we were looking at the Olympics versus World Expo. With the Olympics we felt that the majority of what we need, in terms of infrastructure, is either already in place or already planned so the additional investment was very minimal.
“However, anyone who has been to the Olympics or watched or followed, knows the importance of the performance of the home team to generate that sense of excitement and national pride. And so the decision was we’ll hold off on the Olympics until we give ourselves enough time to focus on grassroots sports with schools and incorporating that into the education system.
“Then with World Expo it just made sense. It’s literally what Dubai and the UAE do every single day and at the end of the day it’s bringing the world together for our collective benefit
“Our focus, our mission, our objective is even more relevant today than before.
“Expo is all about people, planet and purpose and if we’ve learned anything this year it’s the importance of people, planet and purpose and the importance of us coming together and that human solidarity that we saw very strongly this year.”
With World Expo governing body Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) agreeing, as of last April, to postpone the event in light of the global pandemic, Al Bayat says the targets for visitor numbers remain the same.
She adds “as of right now, we are not changing our projections, we are not changing our numbers. We are still working towards them, but we are keeping a close eye to see if we need to change. We’re still about ten months away and a lot can happen in a month’s time, let alone ten months’ time.
“We’re lucky in the sense that our site is big enough that we don’t necessarily have that problem, but we’re constantly doing simulations and checks to make sure, whether it’s looking at visitation numbers, whether it’s looking at how many people per hour can we let in with proper distancing; should that number be exceeded, how can we put in the measures.”
Despite the ongoing COVID-inspired health and economic crisis, Al Bayat reveals that the construction of all Expo-related assets, including the iconic Al Wasl Plaza and associated pavilions, were complete at the end of 2019.
While all 190 countries signed up to take part in the six-month World Expo are also progressing their respective pavilions positively.
She notes “we’re working very closely with the countries to make sure their pavilions are also ready.
“Different countries are going through different phases in terms of COVID and its impact, but we have regular meetings with them and even from a country perspective several countries have completed or are on the verge of completing their pavilions.”
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