One year into the delivery of Dubai’s Tourism Vision for 2020, the emirate’s tourism authority stated that significant steps have been taken to achieve its target of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, leading to a new ambition: for Dubai to become the world’s most visited city.

According to the tourism authority, if a growth rate similar to that achieved in 2013 is maintained – a 10.6 percent year-on-year increase equating to 11 million hotel guests – Dubai will achieve its targets. With London currently holding the title of being world’s most visited city (16 million tourists in 2013), the emirate used its participation in the 2014 edition of Arabian Travel Market (May 5 to 8) to outline why the number one ranking is an ambitious, but realistic, goal.

Having announced the Tourism Vision for 2020 plan at last year’s event, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) discussed the achievements made over the last 12 months based on the collective commitment from industry stakeholders to sector growth and development; demonstrating the continued enhancements and evolution of the city’s destination offerings; and previewing a new marketing blueprint designed to further raise the emirate’s international profile.

Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said in a prepared statement: “Since His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai announced the Tourism Vision for 2020 at last year’s ATM, the UAE has won the right to host Expo 2020 in Dubai; the first phase of our second international airport has opened at Dubai World Central and a substantial number of new hotels, attractions and events have opened, taken place or been announced. Further, in addition to UAE federal pre-entry visa regulations on European Union member states being lifted, major legislative changes have been made which will directly and positively impact the tourism sector and enable us to attract more business and leisure travelers.

“The Tourism Vision for 2020 is a framework which gives all of us in the tourism industry a clear and collective focus. The Vision has been embraced to its fullest by both governmental departments and the private sector – and this first year is just the beginning. During this year’s Arabian Travel Market, the Dubai presence and the exhibits and announcements of our stakeholders demonstrate that while the city is already seen as a must-visit destination, a continuous drive to innovate will lead to a constant reinvention of the visitor experience, creating one that is unrivalled anywhere else in the world. It is this collective industry commitment that makes us confident that we will be able to achieve our targets of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, and inspires the ambition to eventually become the world’s most visited city.

“The pursuit of this ambition means that for the tourist the destination is constantly being enhanced with more attractions, more events, more hotels, world-leading infrastructure and services and a holiday experience which delivers beyond expectations – whether the tourist is visiting for the first time or is a repeat guest.”

A key focus of the past year for DTCM has been the creation of a new marketing blueprint that will ensure this status is enhanced and that the rate of growth in guests continues its strong trajectory. The approach is based on research into the needs, requirements and wants of leisure and business travelers and a comprehensive review of both how the emirate’s destination offering compares to other leading global cities and how this offering is communicated.

Discussing the new approach, Issam Kazim, CEO of the newly formed Dubai Corporation of Tourism and Commerce and Marketing, commented: “Leisure travelers are increasingly seeking holiday destinations that provide a variety of distinctive, enriching and exceptional experiences. Across every component of Dubai’s offering we will continue to ensure that we provide this and that we communicate it throughout all of our marketing activities.

“Due to our landmark projects and unprecedented developments, Dubai is known around the world as a ‘must-see’ city. One of our objectives is to adapt this narrative so it becomes known as a city that ‘must-be-experienced’ – it’s a subtle shift but one that supports the reality of what the destination has offer: a breadth and depth of remarkable experiences that deliver beyond the expected.”

The new marketing approach is being shared with the travel trade industry during Arabian Travel Market, including a preview of a new digital ecosystem that will be launched later this year. This is comprised of a website, app and social media platforms which have been designed to attract and inform visitors and help them plan their trip and experience the city during their visit.