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Analysis of Strategic Event Tourism in Dubai
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Outline of Assessment

This module is assessed through a single summative essay. You will produce a 3,000-word document in essay format and will answer one of the following essay questions:

  1. Strategic event tourism is often cited as a driver of economic development for destinations. Critically discuss the impact which strategic event tourism has had and/or could have on a destination of your choice, using examples.

  2. The event bidding process has been both praised and criticised for being a means for countries wishing to achieve political goals and cultivate legacy benefits at destinations. Critically analyse whether destinations should bid for events based on this reasoning, using event tourism examples of your choice (sports, music, business or other events).

  3. The social and cultural benefits of events have often been referenced as a key reason why destinations promote events as part of an experience for tourists. Provide an in-depth analysis, using examples, of why understanding social and cultural impacts of event tourism can help long term destination tourism strategy.

  4. There have been various criticisms on the process and validity of attempts to research and measure the effectiveness of event tourism strategies. Using examples and theory, explore this issue and suggest ways in which destinations should employ evaluation of events for successful future planning.
     

    Analysis of Strategic Event Tourism in Dubai

Introduction:

Tourism has become one the fastest expanding industries with substantial impact on the global economy. Modern tourism encompasses range of activities such as adventure tourism, leisure travel, cultural tours etc. The rise of internet services, growth in social networking sites and digital technology such as applications have made tourism planning easier and faster altering ways of people enjoying travel.

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) the number of tourists have increased from 674 million in 2000 to 1.4 billion in 2018. Dubai tops the list of world-famous destinations that offers not only famous tourist attractions but also provides enormous exposure to exciting events that are held in the city. Economy of Dubai depends heavily on tourism sector which is diverse and full of varied interesting activities (Arora and Sharma, 2022). 


 resource analysis of dubai event tourism
Source: Resource analysis of Dubai Event Tourism - Bing images


As per data, the city attracted 8.1 million visitors globally in the first half of 2018. The magnificent architectures such as Burj Khalifa, sandy beaches, manmade island Palm Jumeirah, opulent hotels, luxurious shopping, Dubai fountains etc are some of the major attractions causing increasing number of visitors in the city making it one of the popular destinations for event tourism.
 
visitor arrivals stats dubai

Source: Visitor arrivals by region Dubai 2022 | Statista

Event tourism introduces the concept of travelling on purpose of attending events such as conferences, cultural celebration, concerts, sports, sport etc. In recent times this has become a popular trend in tourism with growing demand for unique travel experiences. The reason behind growing demand of such travel niche is the scope of experiencing exciting events and participate in these while travelling which further may not be available to domestic country or local region of the tourists (Getz, 2022).

The enormous potential of event tourism to cater to large-scale global events e.g. Olympic Games to small-scale local festivals, cultural celebrations has led to the growth of tourism and event companies in Dubai. Skyland Tourism in one of the leading firms in this niche. 

This essay makes an attempt to describe the concept, strategies of event tourism and analyse its impact with the context of Dubai as destination.

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Literature Review:  

Strategic Event Tourism

The concept of event tourism is a nexus between event management or studies and tourism management or studies. This is a specified markets for event managers who develop destinations through events. In general terms events refer to different planned performances.

However, in modern world events are serving various social, economic functions such as celebration of housewarming, birthdays, wedding ceremony, anniversary, individual achievement, corporate meetings, seminars, annual day celebrations etc.

Based on these events can be categorised into different type such as business and trade, political, educational, scientific, cultural, art and entertainment, sports, recreational and private events. The addition of destination tourism in conducting these events have become common trend over the last few decades worldwide. 
 
Tourism Education Global Trends

Source: Tourism Education: Global Issues and Trends: Vol. 21 | Emerald Insight

Getz, D (2022)  defines event tourism as a segment of tourism market that encourages travel for attending events. It forms a market strategy that helps in realising all possible economic advantages of events.

The events not only help to attract more visitors to certain rarely explored places but also initiate more travel opportunities and valued sales in different destinations. The growing size and competitiveness of tourism industry has seen manifolded progress with the introduction of events.

This has further allowed tourism areas to meet its social, economic, ecological goals apart from creating unique selling point in the business.


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Events Tourism Strategy:

Strategies of event tourism often submerge in the discussion of marketing planning and destination management. It helps to plan destinations making use of events in the role of tourism (Yap, Saha, and Alsowaidi, 2022). In order to develop strategies of event tourism specific to a destination, it is essential to analyse the strength, weakness, threat and opportunity of particular destination followed by assessing the suitability of geographical, political, economic, social factors in the same.
 
portfolio approach to event tourism strategy
Source: portfolio apprpach to event tourism strategy - Bing images

The size and operational sector of event tourism firms is another important strategy to be considered in the industry. Even though private and public sector both play major role in development of event tourism, private sector is motivated mostly by short-term gains and individual profits.

Only public sector intervention can ensure maximised socio-economic benefits of event tourism while minimising the potential problems (Ray, 2018). Besides public sector operations deem effective in in ensuring strategic and long term beneficia approach to the event tourism.

Importance of Event Tourism

The growing expenditures by tourists in different states, regions, local areas indicate the potential of this industry to be prominent source of national growth. Event tourism creates substantial media exposure for destinations which further attracts visitors in future. This promotes domestic economic growth promptly through job creation, infrastructure developments. The beneficial impact of events become manifold when special tour plans and services are provided to customers who are attending these events.

Event tourism has simultaneous benefits for both tourism firms and event planning organisations. The exotic locations as place of conducting events helps the local region to gain advantages of more tourists, increased business curbing the threats of seasonality or lack of demand in certain seasons In opinion of (Getz, 2022). The growth and continuity of business improves economic well-being of regional people.

Tourism life cycle 
Source: butler's life cycle - Bing images

Butler’s Tourism Area Life Cycle Model is a linear model that graphically shows six stages of evolution of tourism in a particular destination. It helps primarily in panning and management of destinations while promoting sustainable tourism.

Using this model on Dubai as destination it can be stated that the city operates in development stage evident from the expansion in infrastructure, increase in promotion and marketing activities. This justifies the growth of Dubai’s economy.

Resources are allocated to develop infrastructure, renew urban plans, business and trade in cases of mega events only improving the livelihood and quality of life of the local people (Hallaq, Ninov and Dutt, 2021).

Event tourism helps in representing and reshaping the culture of local host communities for inflow of more industrial investments. It promotes cultural exchange as well as better understanding of different cultures and associated customs, local traditions etc. 

Event tourism also justifies social representation theory allowing to establish social order through bringing people together and building sense of community among them.

Even though they belong to different communities and nationalities (Ray, 2018). It enhances scope for social interactions and developing networks among people.

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Critical Impact of Event Tourism

Besides enormous economic growth and social benefits, the phenomenon of event tourism has several external and private cost increasing the threats associated with it. In opinion of Getz, D (2022) hosting large scale events put strenuous impact on the infrastructure of host country’s destination.

There is excessive pressure on the existing accommodation, civil facilities, transport system that create huge social cost on the local community. It might require more investments and capital allocation in order to upgrade the infrastructure and make more services available for increasing number of visitors.

In terms of security there lies increasing threats on the hosting cities raising concerns. The host government has to be alert and agile in implementing security and safety in the events for protecting visitors and local communities.

Arora and Sharma (2022) opines financial issues are most common in countries hosting event tourism as it is expensive process. Some of the common costs associated with event tourism includes marketing cost, infrastructure upgrades, security installations, venue rentals.

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Analysis: 

Dubai as Destination of Event Tourism:

Dubai is one of the luxurious tourist destinations of the world that provides its tourists with huge cultural legacy apart from contemporary attractions. The lively city  also hosts many events throughout the year that includes business, social enterprise, local interest, sports, entertainment, art, exhibitions, concerts and promotional activities. This has helped to attract substantial number of tourists yearly promoting growth in the tourism sector of the country.  

Dubai Shopping Festival, World cup Horse Race, Dubai International Film Festival, Dubai Expo are some of the famous events hosted at the heart of the city which further increases footfall of visitors from all over the world (Planner and Planner, 2023). The growing importance of event tourism has necessitated existence of more tourism agencies in the city so that visitors and tourists get better services such as accommodation, travel, food while attending different events throughout the year.

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Strategies of Event Tourism Companies in Dubai: Skyland Tourism

Skyland Tourism is one of the top reputed event tourism companies in Dubai that is leading in destination and event management operations. The privately-held company is young, founded in 2012 yet has managed to become regional hub of providing best quality of tourism services (Butler's Tourism Area Lifecycle Model Made SIMPLE, 2023).The major tourism attraction in Skyland’s package includes services of safari in desert, water parks, city tour, theme parks, Dhow cruise rides etc.

Event tourism strategic planning involves several steps such as formulation of vison, comprehensive tourism goals, setting up of destination, objectives etc. The vision of Skyland tourism has created clear directions for developing effective strategies for its even tourism operations (Devine, 2016).  The firm has specified certain tourism goals addressing several issues and factors such as development and promotion of tourism in existing events. The goals further specify roles of events in developing organisational value, brand image at the level of different communities, destination regions, interest groups, government institutions .

Supply appraisal is an important strategic approach implemented by the company in order to assess the potentiality of available resources, infrastructure in different destinations of Dubai. The firm employs resource analysis techniques for selection of better destination and marketing of event tourism (Kim, Li and Nauright, 2018).

This involves consideration of physical, human, technological, financial and political factors in such locations. 
 
swot analysis of dubai event tourism
Source: SWOT analysis of Dubai Event Tourism - Bing images

SWOT analysis as a strategic approach assists the company in building and enhancing its capacity and service quality. Use of generic strategies are common in the event tourism companies of Dubai.

Some of the famous generic strategies of Skyland Tourism company involves making use of mega events such as Dubai EXPO, World Cup or general events such as Dubai Home Festival, Dubai Marathon as core attractions (Yap, Saha, and Alsowaidi, 2022). Based on these events the planning of destinations and development of theme, images and packaging are executed by the firm.

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Drivers of Event Tourism in Dubai: 

Dubai is the hub of world class tourism services with range of activities and events attracting millions of tourists every year. Some of the important drivers of event tourism in Dubai are as follows:

  • High quality infrastructure includes attractive venues, developed transportation system, airports and connectivity within city

  • Diversified events offered in Dubai caters to different demographics with varied interests e.g Dubai hosts sport events such as world cup in horse racing, tennis championship and at the same time it conducts food festival, film festival attracting different group of people worldwide.

  • Government of Dubai supports tourism industry with greater allocation of resources and investments in the events. There is close association between Department of Tourism Commerce and Marketing in Dubai and event organisers to maximize the success of such events (Kim, Li and Nauright, 2018).

  • Dubai has an advantage of strategic location as it is situated at the crossroad of Africa, Europe and Asia. This makes it internationally accessible by people from different regions.

  • The luxurious lifestyle and extravagance of Dubai is one of the main drivers behind increased event tourism as visitors seek uniquely lavish experiences. The existence of world class restaurants, hotels, markets, shopping malls provide high end options for visitors.

Impact Analysis: 

Beneficial Effects of Event Tourism in Dubai:

  • Economic Impact: Tourism sector of Dubai contributes 11.5% of GDP with revenue of 109 billion as per the findings of Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing in 2019. The role of events is significant in driving the Dubai tourism to the peak globally (Ray, 2018). Events such as Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai AirShow ensures visitors from all around the world increasing the demand for accommodation, food, recreational activities, transportation and other facilities. This further boosts the local economy manifold.

  • Social Impact: Diversity in events offered by Dubai attracts different age group, demographic, sex, caste and creed of people creating sense of unification. People with different language, cultural backgrounds socialise, interact and unite in events such as Dubai Jazz Festival, Dubai Food Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises etc (Yap, Saha, and Alsowaidi, 2022).. This makes the city a hub of connecting with people and developing friendship and valuable relationship along with enjoying the events.

  • Cultural Impact:The calendar of Dubai includes cultural events extensively such as Dubai Art Season, International Film Festival, Dubai Design Week etc (Planner and Planner, 2023). These events provide platforms for not only showcasing arts and culture of different nations but also allows cultural exchange. It further promotes understanding each culture from different perspective and embracing & celebrating them thoroughly. Needless to say, for this reason people worldwide prefer to visit Dubai which is one stop destination for multiple cultural experiences about local communities, standard of living, customs encouraging sense of appreciation.

  • Environmental Impact:The events held in Dubai promotes the goals of sustainability in production and consumption, lower carbon footprint, use of green techniques which enhances social awareness. The tourism sector already implemented strategy minimising waste and carbon emissions in the events. Event organisers has taken active measures to work closely with government and spread education awareness to people (Van Niekerk and Getz, 2019). This has contributed substantially to achieve the vision of making Dubai a sustainable city apart from being most attractive tourist and events destination.

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Adverse Effect of Event Tourism in Dubai:

Despite having many positive effects on the city event tourism in Dubai has several negative affects too such as:

  • Environmental Concerns: Hosting mega events such as concerts, festivals continuously have evoked a concern of severe environmental degradation in Dubai . The increasing footfall of tourists has created pressure on natural resources such as land, water, energy, raw materials etc. The man -made city infrastructure also faces increasing dependence.

    Events cause emission of carbons impacting the environment negatively. Event tourism has increased population of the city even if temporarily and this led to overcrowding and congestion in transportation. The events cause traffic issues, delay, inconveniences for local people as well as visitors. Apart from the impact on nature, these factors strongly affect public health (Arora and Sharma, 2022).

  • Social Impact: Event tourism revolves around small-scale to large-scale events which may disrupt the social benefits. The residential areas, schools, colleges, markets can face challenges because of  crowd, noise, congestion on roads due to hosting large events.  The local residents face poor quality of facilities hampering their lifestyle (Hallaq, Ninov and Dutt, 2021).

  • Cultural Impact: Commodification and increased consumerism based on cultural aspects has turned into severe challenge for local people and visitors in Dubai. There is heavy marketing and packaging of local tradition, customs for commercial gains. Cultural mingling in events can reinforce stereotypes among tourists leading to superficial perception of diverse culture.

Stakeholder Evaluation 

The grand activities associated with event tourism in Dubai has significant impact on several stakeholders as follows:

  • Residents: They have both positive and negative effect. They receive benefit of events through cultural exchange, socialising, interaction. However, events and associated tourism affects the lifestyle of local residents due to infrastructural issues such as congestions, pollution, crowd, noise etc.

  • Tourists: They receive mostly benefits of varied opportunities to participate in recreational events and exchange culture, economic opportunities such as more jobs etc. However, at times lack of security and safety can impact them negatively too.

  • Event Organizers and Tourism Agencies: Agencies receive huge revenue and build better brand image, reputation helping in promotion of business in future (Van Niekerk and Getz, 2019). However they have be responsible for conducting events sustainably minimizing negative effects of increased crowd.

  • Business or Firms: Tourism and hospitality firms receives significant benefits in terms of increased revenues due to demands for hotels, food, transport etc during events. This stimulates entrepreneurship, innovation and create more jobs.

  • Governments: Major stakeholder in event tourism as a key driver of Dubai’s growth and development. It is responsible for regulations that ensures safety, sustainability and security (Van Niekerk and Getz, 2019). It has to balance differential interests of other stakeholders in order to maximize the benefit of event tourism.

Conclusion 

Event tourism, a nexus of event management and destination management has become a popular market segment under the tourism industry. It is an interesting way of attracting more visitors in developing destinations.

Event tourism has seen increased popularity due to the varied exposure it offers in terms of cultural exchange, participation in different activities, socialization and building relationship within communities. 

Dubai offers similar variety in experiences due to its strategic location and developed infrastructure allowing more people to visit the city. Better infrastructural facilities such as high end hotels, transportation, shopping malls, destination, magnificent architecture have further expanded the rate of event tourism in Dubai.

This further led to collaboration between tourism and event organising firms in Dubai. Skyland Tourism is one such firm that gained leading position in the industry in short time due to its ability to cater to dynamic tourism with better quality services. Dubai has evolved till development stage as per Butler’s Tourism Life Cycle graph making it justifiable on growing economic prosperity due to event and tours.

Event tourism exerts several impacts on Dubai and its different stakeholders. There exists positive effects but negative effects can not be denied completely.

Economically the event tourism benefitted Dubai but environmentally it created more concerns than benefits. Social benefits of close knit community also face challenge when the excessive crowd of tourists tend to disrupt social life of local residents.

It is important for the Dubai government to acknowledge, identify and address the main issues in event tourism and negative impact on stakeholders in order to provide adequate solutions. Policymakers needs to collaborate with event organisers to minimise and control the negative social, environmental and cultural impact of hosting events in Dubai.

Residents and visitors need to come forward and realise their duties of practising sustainable tourism in order to keep Dubai going as topmost destination of event-based tourism in the world. 

Despite several challenges of hosting events and attracting tourists purposefully, event tourism has proved beneficial overall for Dubai’s economy with growing revenue and GDP contribution of the tourism sector over the past few years.

It has successfully promoted social integration, sustainable tourism practices, cultural exchange besides economic prosperity. Dubai event tourism has certainly gained critical importance in the development strategy of the city.

References:

  1.    Arora, S. and Sharma, A. (2022) Event Tourism in Asian Countries: Challenges and Prospects.
  2.    Butler's Tourism Area Lifecycle Model Made SIMPLE (no date). Available at: https://tourismteacher.com/butlers-tourism-area-life-cycle-model/.
  3.     Devine, A. (2016) DEVELOPING AN EVENT TOURISM STRATEGY – THE KEY INGREDIENTS. Available at: https://pure.ulster.ac.uk/en/publications/developing-an-event-tourism-strategy-the-key-ingredients-2.
  4.     Getz, D. and Van Niekerk, M. (2019) Event Stakeholders: Theory and methods for event management and tourism. Goodfellow Publishers Ltd.
  5.     Getz, D., 2022. Event management. In Encyclopedia of Tourism Management and Marketing (pp. 144-147). Edward Elgar Publishing.
  6.     Gomba, C.A. (2018) Tourist Perceptions of Dubai and Expo2020. Available at: https://ertr-ojs-tamu.tdl.org/ertr/article/view/233.
  7.    Hallaq, A.H.A., Ninov, I. and Dutt, C.S. (2021) “The perceptions of host-city residents of the impact of mega-events and their support: the EXPO 2020 in Dubai,” Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, 13(3), pp. 374–396. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/19407963.2020.1839088.
  8.     Kim, Y.H., Li, H. and Nauright, J., 2018. A destination development by building a brand image and sport event tourism: a case of Sport City USA. Sport in Society, 21(8), pp.1196-1203.
  9.     Planner, D.T. and Planner, D.T. (2023) 30+ Events in Dubai to Look Forward to For the Rest of 2022. Available at: https://www.dubaitravelplanner.com/events-in-dubai-2022/.
  10.     Ray, S., 2018. Event tourism in Asian context. In Tourism Events in Asia (pp. 4-19). Routledge.
  11.     Smit, B. and Melissen, F., 2018. Sustainable customer experience design: Co-creating experiences in events, tourism and hospitality. Routledge.
  12.     (2016) Global Issues and Trends in Tourism. 1st edn. ST. KLIMENT OHRIDSKI UNIVERSITY PRESS. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/30180968/Global_Issues_and_Trends_in_Tourism_pdf
  13.     Stokes, R. (2018) “Tourism strategy making: Insights to the events tourism domain,” Tourism Management, 29(2), pp. 252–262. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tourman.2007.03.014.
  14.     Van Niekerk, M. and Getz, D., 2019. Event stakeholders. Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers.
  15.     Yap, G., Saha, S. and Alsowaidi, S.S., 2022. The competitiveness of Qatari tourism: A comparative and SWOT analysis.
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