Dubai wants to start opening up for tourists at the beginning of July, but it could be September and much could depend on bilateral discussions, according to the Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism. There are no known plans to restart inbound medical tourism.
Dubai’s reopening will be gradual and could be delayed until September, said Helal Al Marri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism. Much will depend on global trends. Many countries remain closed and much could depend on bilateral discussions.
Dubai’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, trade and retail. Dubai had 16.73 million international overnight visitors in 2019, according to Dubai Tourism. This includes an estimated 350,000 medical tourists.
India was the emirate’s top market for inbound tourism, with nearly two million visitors. Saudi Arabia remained Dubai’s top source market from the GCC with 1.6 million visitors, while the UK was Dubai’s third largest inbound tourism market with 1.2 million visitors. Oman and China delivered a million and 989,000 visitors respectively, in 2019.
Most medical tourism business for Dubai comes from within the Gulf region. As yet, the emirate has not attracted high volumes of medical tourists from Europe or Asia. International patients who do come from Europe are mainly expatriates working in the MENA region. For 2018, the greatest number from Arab and GCC countries were from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.
As yet there are no known plans to restart medical tourism.
The ruler of Dubai has ordered an emergency plan to be developed to increase the productivity and competitiveness of the medical sector as part of preparation for the post-COVID-19 era in the emirate.
The Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA) has a DHCA Business Relief Package which includes conditional rental waivers for three months, deferred rental payments, and reduced fees and waivers for certain services within the free zone.