Eyes on the Ball

Vision 2020

Dubai has already become a regional capital of MICE tourism; however, now it has an aim to diversify its tourism activities to increase both revenues and visitor numbers.

On May 4, 2013, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum approved the Dubai Vision 2020. Its main objectives are to increase the number of annual visitors to 20 million as well as treble the tourism sector’s contribution to the economy to AED300 billion. This may seem like an ambitious target, but when looking back at the growth Dubai has experienced recently, the goals appear quite achievable. In 2004, over 5 million people visited Dubai, which then doubled to 10 million eight years later in 2012. The Vision plans to double again the number of visitors in a slightly shorter time frame of seven years. In 2012, the tourism sector in Dubai contributed AED182 billion to its economy. At current annual growth rates of 4.3%, by 2022 it will increase to AED277.8 billion, which is still slightly lower than the Vision’s target—and two years late. Therefore, the plan is to develop three main areas of tourism to increase both revenues and the number of visitors to the Emirate to reach its targets on time.


Dubai’s first key focus area is to make the UAE the world’s leading family destination. The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) will play a major role in this area by coordinating the activities of industry and public sector partners to expand the Emirate’s existing attractions, events, and experiences that cater to families. It will also take advantage of two of the city’s greatest assets—the coast and the desert—and create specific packages to attract tourists to the Emirate. The DTCM will also market its historical and cultural sites, boost its capabilities as a cruise destination, and introduce world-class sporting facilities.

The second focus of the Vision is to turn Dubai into a world premier destination for events. Dubai wants to be the first place people think of when they want to put on an event, both regionally and globally. Local annual events, such as the Dubai Shopping Festival, will be heavily promoted to improve its global recognition, and, in turn, that of Dubai. The Emirate is also aiming for one of the most prestigious events worldwide, the World Expo 2020. An event such as this is expected to attract 25 million tourists alone; however, the visitors that “Dubai Expo 2020 would attract are very different from the 20 million visitors we are targeting,” Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General of DTCM, explained to TBY. While the DTCM will play a significant role in achieving the target of a global event destination, the Dubai Events and Promotion Establishment (DEPE) will also be at the forefront when it comes to marketing in Dubai, and has produced considerable success in the past when developing seasonal festivals that have driven the growth of the events and retail sectors.

The third principle focus is setting out a global strategy to become a major destination for MICE tourism. Dubai is already the capital of MICE for the region, but now the DTCM will be looking for the most efficient and effective way to move this on to a global scale. It will also look for a way to introduce a more standardized and unified approach to business tourism.

Dubai knows that Vision 2020 is no easy task. As HH Sheikh Mohammed said in a press release announcing the Vision, “We are aware that such goals are ambitious, but more important than ambition is realizing these goals in reality.”