DMO Stories

Dubai is the 4th most visited city in the world, welcoming 10.85 million international guests in 2019. In 2014, Dubai Tourism identified China as a huge opportunity market and set about developing a strategy to reach this highly sought after audience.

Over the years, Chinese travellers are fast becoming, if not already, the world’s most influential and important market within the travel industry today. This is due to the significant shift away from the traditional group travel to FIT (Free independent travellers), the increase in the desire to travel, and wealth, with the Chinese market being the world’s biggest spenders within the tourism space.

With no existing enablers in place to successfully tap into this lucrative market, Dubai Tourism created a 360 market strategy developed specifically for the Chinese market, which has achieved steady, successful growth since activating this approach in 2014. Today, the top 5 source markets for Dubai include India, Saudi Arabia, UK, Oman and China, of which the latter previously sat below the top 10 ranking in Dubai’s core markets. 

360 Market Strategy

Channels & Partnerships

Dubai Tourism already had an existing ecosystem in place in terms of partnerships, however, half of it could not be utilised to effectively reach the Chinese audience. The first step of the new strategy was co-ordinating all the relevant channels and partnerships. 

Trade development partners such as Ctrip, key platforms such as WeChat and Weibo, enabling airline capacity expansion and ensuring the destination was ‘China ready’ with other key partners such as Alipay. The App and OTA integration is the most important tool in reaching this audience, and enabling a seamless experience for the Chinese traveller which is really key to its success. Dubai Tourism also created a new brand to ensure everything across the user journey made sense to this audience. 

Always-on content strategy

In order to respond to the always-on consumer, a new content strategy was developed, ensuring Dubai Tourism occupied a presence on social all year round. Apps such as WeChat and Weibo were integrated into the communications strategy to successfully reach this audience on their native apps of choice. 


In terms of content, Dubai Tourism started working with popular Chinese influencers, recognising it was time to shift from the voice of the official tourism board, to one of UGC and content creators who really know the market. These campaigns also very cleverly shift the perception of Dubai, indirectly answering questions new visitors may have about visiting the destination. 

A really important point to make here, is that everything is integrated within one holistic campaign across the entire user digital journey, from awareness to conversion. 

5 Quick Takeaways

  1. It is worth investing in a completely new strategy to reach new opportunity markets. Even adapting your logo may seem like a small change, but it can make a huge difference. 
  2. Review and adapt the whole ecosystem so you are able to provide a seamless travel experience. 
  3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. With an industry that continues to evolve, it is important to diversify your portfolio when you see the opportunity to do so. 
  4. Both the travel industry and digital ecosystem changes, so remain agile and always be open to pilot new ideas and try working in different ways.
  5. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone to appeal to your desired audience. It can be done without diluting the destination brand. 

Hoor Alkhaja, Associate Vice President at Dubai Tourism, joined us at #DTTTGlobal 2018. To listen to the full talk, visit our Launchpad


More from #DTTT

  • In October we present:
    X. Festival: Reshaping the Visitor Economy
    Reshaping the Visitor Economy I believe it was February when we started thinking about how feasible it was to run our next event. Organising two flagship events twice a year presents us with a very tight schedule when it comes to finding speakers, selecting venues, coordinating with sponsors and dividing the work amongst team members. [...]
    #reshapingtravel #digitalevent #event
  • In October we present:
    Defining the Ingredients of a Good Destination brand Experience
    A lot of DMOs are asking themselves, "how can we help our industry to pivot, to design new experiences and to prioritise sustainability in recovery?" Defining the Ingredients of a Good Destination Brand Experience Destination branding is driven by three main factors; reputation, identity and perception. However, the ultimate factor, the key ingredient that brings [...]
    #dmo brand #recovery #brand experience #brand #destination
  • In September we present:
    Market Pivot with Slovenian Tourist Board
    Building a Recovery Strategy that attracts the audiences in the 'new normal' The old way of targeting, converting and growing needs a revision. Gone are 'emerging markets' and 'disposable income' as audience criteria. We need to hit reset. Now more than ever, it is important to be sensitive to the concerns of visitors and to [...]
    #visitor journey #slovenia #consumer behaviour #trends #workshop
  • In June we present:
    New Normal, Same Visitors
    How can destinations safely reopen to international visitors? What are the strategies behind the reopening and what's the role of DMOs? These are only few of the questions we asked to VisitJamaica, who told us how they successfully managed to keep the nation safe for both of international tourists and locals, developing effective protocols and solid [...]
  • In June we present:
    Staycation Storytelling with Visit Estonia – Weekly Tourism Impact Call: Week 13
    DTTT · Staycation Storytelling with Visit Estonia Where do destinations find inspiration for their campaigns during COVID-19? How do they convince people to travel again and engage with the local tourism sector? With the focus on recovery and the domestic restart, we have seen many different campaign approaches aimed at the domestic market. The latest [...]
    #domestic tourism #recovery #COVID-19 #visit-estonia #storytelling #strategy
  • In June we present:
    Why is Design Thinking so important in identifying solutions?

    We are in an unprecedented moment in the industry’s history, which must redefine itself. Businesses must pivot, but with a purpose, destinations must demonstrate leadership, value and co-design a new future for tourism. In today’s remote world, amidst the uncertainty, we will enable the industry to develop empathy and co-create impactful outcomes for the benefit […]

    #solutions #recovery #remote design thinking #DMOs #strategy #tourism
Show more
© 2020 Digital Tourism Think Tank