Blog / How to capitalise on EXPO 2020 in The Intelligent SME Aug Sept 2014

How to capitalise on EXPO 2020 in The Intelligent SME Aug Sept 2014

The Expo 2020 is anticipated to attract 25 million visitors over the six months it is staged, with business expected to surge in sales during the seven years leading up to it, solicits Karen Osman.

The hype surrounding the Expo 2020 bid was unmissable – from demonstrating our support to celebrating when Dubai was selected to host the world expo trade convention – there is no doubt that it brought a feeling of confidence and optimism to the market. But now that the dust has settled, what does this win really mean to SMEs and the travel and tourism industry and how can this momentous event be maximised?

According to experts, the appointment of the event is likely to generate significant economic benefits for Dubai and the UAE as a whole with a substantial positive impact on the tourism sector. The Expo is anticipated to attract 25 million visitors over the six months it is staged, with business expected to surge in sales during the seven years leading up to it. A noteworthy contributor of this expected upturn is the Dubai Government, as the hosting of Dubai Expo 2020 will require substantial investment, which will in turn generate commercial opportunities to the private sector.

As the city continues to strengthen its infrastructure with additional luxury resorts and entertainment attractions, Dubai expects to see its hotel inventory double from over 82,000 to around 164,000 hotels and hotel apartment rooms by 2020 and the development of several leisure projects. This is particularly encouraging for businesses within the tourism and hospitality industry, which will witness key growth in direct and indirect opportunities, estimated to account for 40% of the total of new jobs created.

These figures do sound very promising especially for companies within the travel and tourism industry, but there is an overall reservation within the SME community that projects resulting from the Expo 2020 will only benefit the larger, more established companies. So where does this leave SMEs?

Referring to recent statistics from the UAE Ministry of Economy, the SME sector currently accounts for 92 per cent of the country’s total registered companies, 86 per cent of the workforce in the private sector and 40 per cent of the GDP. With SMEs contributing considerably to the country’s economy, it is no wonder that the Dubai Government is working on ensuring that SMEs are able to benefit from Expo 2020. Although there is no official announcement on this yet, DubaiSME is currently producing a 2020 document that will outline the commercial opportunities.

Expo 2020 is expected to produce 300,000 direct new jobs and it’s estimated that one million indirect opportunities will also be created, so what can SMEs do to capitalise on the appointment?

• Focus on strengthening and building existing relationships with clients/customers

• Develop competitive advantages

• Put an emphasis on business development

• Be price and brand competitive

• Define which opportunities to capitalise on

• Ensure your company has the required strengths and resources.

Whether or not Expo 2020 will attract the expected number of visitors, or create the impressive number of jobs, it has already provided a major boost for the economy and work force confidence. According to the quarterly business survey conducted by the Department of Economic Development, the Dubai business community has been significantly more optimistic during the first quarter of 2014, compared to the same period of last year. This optimism is linked to the positive and progressive perception of Dubai, which is credited to the Expo 2020 win and is expected to increase substantially. SMEs should be prepared to leverage on this euphoria and confidence in the market, which essentially will support growth, create more demand and increase business opportunities.

Karen Osman
Karen Osman
Originally from England, Karen has lived the ex-pat life for the last 15 years across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. After completing a B.A. in Linguistics and English Language at the University of Durham, a two year period teaching in Tokyo was the start of a career that combined her two great loves; travel and the English language. Moving to Dubai in 2004, Karen engaged in a sales, marketing and public relations role for a luxury hospitality company. It was a great opportunity to develop communication for luxury brands, gaining experience in writing and adapting copy for both off-line and on-line channels. After identifying a gap in the market for specialised writing services for the travel, tourism and hospitality sector, Karen set up Travel Ink in 2011, steadily building the business to include some of the most high-profile hotels, airlines and tourism establishments in the region. In addition to her role as Managing Director, Karen is also the Travel and Tourism Chair Person for the British Business Group and a committee member of Business Network International.

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