Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

World Travel Market: Expo 2020 organisers target lasting sustainability legacy

The UAE was described as a ‘melting pot’ ripe for the exchange of ideas

Organisers of Dubai’s Expo 2020 are targeting 25 million visits and expect to generate $30 billion of added value to the UAE’s economy.

The world fair's chief commercial officer said it would be an “incredible benchmark” and lasting legacy that could show that major events can be more sustainable.

Roughly 70 per cent of the site in Dubai South has been completed and around 50,000 jobs are set to be created because of the Expo 2020, said Sanjive Khosla.

“[Expo 2020] is not a trade show, this is a celebration of the best the world has to offer in terms of creativity, innovation, culture, gastronomy, everything," he told the World Tourism Market in London.

"We think it’s going to be a new benchmark in how expos are looked at going forward."

Mr Khosla said two days will be the same during Expo 2020, with parades, A-list concerts and opera planned along with events such as Christmas and Diwali, when the site is set to be given a makeover.

Expo 2020 runs for six months from October next year.

He said: “The UAE is a very young country ... but it’s occupied and its carved out a unique position given its geographic position and the infrastructure that it has.

"It’s really become this hub for transportation, for trade and for people.

“What the UAE has really become is this amazing melting pot for ideas and the exchange and flow of information. And for us therefore ‘connecting minds, creating the future’ was the ideal theme to actually adopt and deliver the expo on,” he said.

Mr Khosla said Expo 2020, the first world expo to be awarded to a country in the Middle East and North Africa, wanted to change the perceptions of how major events can be run with sustainability a key focus from day one.

About 85 per cent of waste is to be diverted away from landfill to sustainable sites during the 173-day event even with as many as 250,000 visitors a day.

More than 190 countries have committed to attend so far and organisers are aiming for an unprecedented 70 per cent of visitors to come from outside the UAE.

Among the pavilions, Mr Khosla said, was one focused on sustainability. "The experience is very deep and meant to essentially challenge the choices that you make from a sustainability perspective," he said. "Hopefully this will make you look at things differently and make intelligent choices which will help preserve the environment and the ecology around you going forward.

“After the event is over, we shut down the site for 6 months, it gets transformed and it becomes a mixed-use business district,” he said, noting that expo partners Siemens and Accenture were among those to show interest. “

Hoor Al Khaja, associate vice president of international operations at Dubai Tourism, said the emirate wanted to be the number one visited place in the world.

She said officials were aware that Dubai was famed for its luxury and shopping, it wanted to show there was much more to the emirate.

“There’s always a reason to visit over and over again,” Ms Al Khaja said. Culture, gastronomy, adventure and family holidays are among the sectors being targeted, she said.

Updated: November 5, 2019 10:10 PM

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