Brighter prospects light way for UAE hospitality

09 August 2021
As the hospitality sector finds its footing, events such as Expo 2020 Dubai and Qatar's Fifa World Cup 2022 will pave the way for new opportunities

For the UAE’s hospitality sector, competition has been a way of life for many years now.

Issues surrounding oversupply of hotel rooms and limited differentiation in offerings have clouded the sector, and the complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have made surviving the industry tougher than ever.

With shrinking profit margins and fewer incoming travellers than expected, the pie is smaller, but the players vying for a slice remain the same.

“With every challenge, there is an opportunity,” says Inam Haider, CEO and founder of Hospitality Solutions Group (HSG), the official hospitality partner of the Australian pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

“The hospitality industry is always on the frontlines to address the gaps for tourism and trade, by diversifying their offerings and meeting the needs of the constantly changing environment.”

Moving forward, it will remain important for hoteliers to differentiate themselves from their competition by offering more ‘unique’ experiences.

And events such as Expo 2020 Dubai are set to play a pivotal role in accelerating these changes.

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“Digitalisation and innovation serve as the light at the end of the tunnel to help pull the industry forward out of the malaise and uncertainty it finds itself in,” emphasises Haider.

“As tourism and global events like Expo 2020 kick off, we see that innovations in safety are key to maintaining consumer confidence and the wellbeing of not just an industry but entire nations,” he adds.

Even though uncertainties regarding the virus linger, recovery is being observed in several travel markets on the back of successful vaccination drives and gradual improvement in traveller confidence.

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“This is going to be the most important event post-Covid, where everyone can once again catch up, do business and find out what’s been happening in this post-pandemic world,” says Haider.

“I see Expo 2020 taking the lead on bringing the world closer into the 'new normal'."

Remaining competitive

The UAE government has focused on recovery efforts, setting up policies and campaigns to strengthen the hospitality sector.

Contactless payments, easily accessible PCR testing and capacity control solutions are some of the technologies that have been rapidly adopted by the industry in response to the pandemic.

“The UAE is second to none when it comes to leading the way in safety measures for public safety,” says Haider.

“The country’s response has been spectacular. Government agencies and businesses have come together to ensure that all safety policies and guidelines are followed and enforced. The result has allowed the UAE to open once again with a mix of caution and pragmatism.”

Digitalisation and innovation are the light at the end of the tunnel to pull the industry out of the malaise and uncertainty it finds itself in
Inam Haider, Hospitality Solutions Group

The UAE hospitality industry is making a comeback on the strength of this response. Consumers will feel safer and more confident when visiting venues and hotels with safety measures in place than those without.

But while commitment to safety is not in question, a stunted year for business means fewer resources are at hand. Hence innovation in technology and safety is more important than ever in order to provide the reassurance that many seek when returning to previous levels of travel.

“This ambition reflects one of the core themes of the Australian participation at expo – to spotlight innovation,” says Haider.

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Haider sees the Expo as an ideal foundation to pave the way for new business opportunities in other GCC markets such as Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, either through strategic partnerships with local players or direct operations in these countries.

“With high-profile events such Expo 2020 and the Fifa World Cup 2022 in Qatar, and the development of large-scale projects in Saudi Arabia, the region is opening up to the world like never before, and seeks to emulate and exceed what hospitality means to the world,” says Haider.

“The coming years bear promise for the region to prosper and lead the way for commerce, safety and hospitality.”

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