One of the first things that Sumathi Ramanathan will tell you about Expo 2020 Dubai is that it’s going to be the “greatest show on earth.”
Ramanathan, global destination marketing director for Expo 2020 Dubai, observed that: “It’s an exciting time for Dubai. The campaign is going to launch very soon and it’s called “Expo 2020 Dubai: The Greatest Show On Earth” and we truly promise the greatest destination experience for all visitors.”
She’s also quick to point out that Expo 2020 Dubai has already marked a number of “firsts,” including the fact that it is the first time that a World Expo has been held in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa region, allowing “people from across the globe to experience a World Expo with the touch of Arabic flavour and the Emerati hospitality – which really makes it very unique.”
Already 192 countries have committed to participating in a World Expo that, for the first time, will see each of the countries have their own pavilion – and that’s another first.
“We have a concept called One Country, One Pavilion which truly allows the countries which are participating to showcase the best of their country’s heritage, culture, innovation, technology and creativity on an individual scale,” Ramanathan said.
“So the promise for visitors is that with one flight ticket and one visa, they will actually get to visit 192 countries and see the best that the country has got to offer,” she said.
Beyond the country pavilions, Ramanathan said that: “There is a full program of entertainment. There’s going to be 60 live events per day. And it is one of the first World Expos that we are celebrating in the winter period, so for the first time in World Expo history, so we get to celebrate six very special days.”
These will include Diwali, Christmas, New Year’s, Chinese New Year and more, as well as celebrations to mark the United Arab Emirates 50th anniversary – its Jubilee Celebration — in 2021.
Expo 2020 Dubai will also have a strong food and beverage offering, with more than 200 outlets ranging from fine dining to street food, from bistros to cafes.
Between October 2020 and April 2021, Ramanathan said that Expo 2020 Dubai is expecting 25 million visits, with 70% of those visitors being international.
Europe and Asia will be the mega event’s biggest source markets, including the Gulf markets, South Asia (largely India), Russia CIS, China, the European markets of the United Kingdom, Germany and France, and North America are all in the top 10.
She pointed out that: “In the top 10 markets, we have a very strong and strategic reach, however, we are having a massive outreach to our top 50 markets where we will be having an Expo presence in working with the travel trade. And we have a light touch approach in about 30 other markets. So we have a tiered strategy approach to some of our key source markets …
As for where North America fits, Ramanathan explained that: “Both the US and Canada are important source markets for us for a number of reasons. Both of these markets have hosted World Expos before and are very familiar with mega events. They’re sophisticated markets where travellers actually look for experiences when they’re travelling and therefore we believe Expo is actually a fantastic fit [for them].”
As for the travel trade, Ramanathan explained that: “Our approach in the US and Canada is heavily reliant on working with our stakeholders in the tourism industry. Travel agents and tour operators are pivotal to our strategy in terms of delivering the visitor experience.”
To that end, she said that Expo 2020 Dubai has developed an Authorized Ticket Reseller (ATR) program and “through this program we will be able to work very closely with interested [members of the] trade.”
“We have done several roadshows, in fact, we have three outreach programs that have already happened in the US and one in Canada and the response from the trade [to the ATR program] has been absolutely fantastic,” she said.
Ramanathan pointed out that the ATR enables members of the travel trade to access Expo tickets at a commissionable rate and then they can package it and start selling it to the audience [their clients].
She noted, as well, that: “We have marketing funding that will go behind it, so as part of the ticketing they will be able to negotiate some marketing support which includes cash investment on a co-op funding basis, training and marketing materials.”
And Rmanathan added: “The most important thing is that they will get to use the Authorized Ticket Reseller logo which means that they have been trained by Expo; that they’ve got the knowledge; they’ve got the expertise; they’ve got access to inside information regarding itinerary planning; and more importantly they are the appointed authority to sell tickets in Canada.”
Agents and operators can find information on the ATR program by going to Expo2020Dubai.com, where they will find a specific page for the resellers and they can register their interest there.
Ramanathan said that Expo 2020 has taken a “proactive approach” and during its trade shows has “reached out to the majority of the travel trade in Canada and we’ve had significant interest from the trade.
“So it is going well, but we’d love to encourage more agents to come and have a conversation with us and we’re happy to support [them],” Ramanathan said.
For more on the ticket resellers program, go to https://www.expo2020dubai.com/en/business/resellers.