Expo 2020 Dubai stirs up interest in Asia

Expo 2020 Dubai is expected to attract scores of international visitors from Asia and bring benefits to the UAE beyond the six-month event.

The mega event, which runs from October 2020 to April 2021, will see a huge range of activities, entertainment and events take place at a 438ha purpose-built site that is expected to capture 25 million visits.

Expo 2020 is expected see more than 190 countries exhibiting, including the Philippines and Malaysia. Thailand has became the first South-east Asian country to break ground on its pavilion at the Expo.

Gillian Hamburger, senior vice president of commercial at Expo 2020 Dubai, said the mega event will create a long-term legacy, with the range of facilities creating a satellite district once the event is over. “The masterplan is to create a city that will still be there in 2030, 2040, 2050, that happens to have been built for the Expo. It’s a brilliant legacy story.”

A huge satellite city is currently under construction, housing an exhibition centre, several pavilions, gardens, parks, galleries and more than 200 F&B outlets, with Expo incorporating robotics and augmented and virtual reality into dining experiences.

Hamburger added: “We are expecting to (attract) a lot of visitors from Asia and are creating segmented programmes and dining experiences for this, as well as having good language skills on site.”

The event is expected to see draw a 70:30 mix of international to domestic attendees.

Expo teams are carrying out roadshows across Asia and working with DMCs to curate packages for specific markets, as well as inviting delegations to tour the sprawling site.

The UAE’s tourism players are already seeing an increase in international interest from visitors wanting to stop off in Dubai to experience the mega event.

John Williams, director of business development at Al Hadaf Travel & Tourism, said: “We are expecting to get a lot more traffic. We are already promoting it to many destinations in Asia and are getting strong interest from India and China.”

The Expo is also working with cruise operators, with many ships travelling from the Mediterranean to South-east Asia and vice versa repositioning their route to stop at Dubai and Abu Dhabi during the six-month event.

Yasser Moussa, deputy general manager at Al Bustan Centre and Residences, added: “We are starting to see bookings already, especially from longhaul countries, and I believe those levels will be maintained after Expo. This is a very important event.”

Expo has just revealed its 29,000m2 Sustainability Pavilion will house extensive interactive exhibition, Terra, which explores environmental issues through an innovative range of engaging activities. This is the first thematic experience to be unveiled, with Opportunity and Mobility to follow.

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