Middle East

Dubai looks to open itself for tourism as early as July

Marina Bay Dubai

Come July, Dubai hopes to reopen itself for tourists. After having halted arrivals last month to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the economic hub wants to encourage travel for business and leisure by July or latest by September.

The process will be gradual and could be delayed until September, depending on global trends, Helal Al Marri, director general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Tuesday.

Many countries remain closed and it’s more about the bilateral discussions, Al Marri said. Is it going to be July when things start slowly opening up? Is it going to be September? “We just need to make sure were ready if things come earlier than expected,” he said in the interview.

Last week the government announced it would ease the strict lockdown and allow some commercial and transport activities to restart. The United Arab Emirates has reported around 10,800 cases of Covid-19.

Dubai received 16.7 million tourists last year, according to official estimates. India, Saudi Arabia and the U.K. have been the most important markets for the emirate for years, though the number of Chinese visitors is climbing rapidly.

The government is providing support for the beleaguered hospitality sector by reducing some fees — including a 50% cut in municipality payments.