DUBAI, April 27 (Xinhua) -- Dubai has increased e-footprint in tourism sector to pamper tech-savvy travelers, experts said at the Arabian Travel market fair which ended here on Thursday.
"One of the biggest trends in e-tourism this year is the enhancement of mobile apps, particularly in the hospitality industry," said Cody Morris Paris, Associate Professor of Social Science at Middlesex University Dubai.
The government-controlled Dubai Tourism authority signed on Tuesday on the fair an agreement with Tink Labs from Hong Kong to introduce Handy Travel, a smart phone service for hotels.
"Hotels in Dubai will offer our Handy Travel smart phones in their rooms with all the necessary apps installed to discover Dubai," said Salha Soussi, Senior Sales Manager Gulf Region at Tink Labs. "The smartphone is provided free of charge in the room and has to be given back by the hotel guest once he checks out," she explained.
For Morris Paris, such new features to Dubai are no coincidence. "The clearly defined, well executed, and innovative destination marketing campaigns, emerging from Dubai tourism, are very effective," he said.
According to Dubai Tourism, Dubai, with a total population of 2.7 million inhabitants the biggest city in the Gulf state United Arab Emirates (UAE), attracted in 2016 14.9 million overnight visitors, a 5 percent year-on-year increase.
In order to attract at least 20 million visitors by 2020 when Dubai will host the World Expo, Dubai Tourism has been running for years the campaign named MyDubai which encourages users of social media channels like twitter or instagram to post pictures of the city, increasing the visibility of the city in cyberspace globally.
Popular sceneries are world's tallest tower Burj Khalifa, the seven-star hotel Burj Al Arab or the Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest civil aviation hub in relation to international travelers.
According to Dubai Tourism annual report 2016 launched on Monday at the fair, "Dubai's tourism apps Visit Dubai and Dubai Calendar address and cater to the widespread shift from desktop to mobile devices among global consumers, providing tourist information.
The report also said that in 2016, 52.3 million people engaged with Dubai Tourism on social media, up 60 percent year on year. The number of social media channel followers also surged, with travel volume increased in the first three months of 2017 year on year.
Dubai is the first Arab city to introduced free WiFi on public transport like on buses and the driverless Dubai Metro as well as at popular tourist spots and in public beaches.
Moreover, smart phone users can charge their devices at public Smart Palms, solar-powered, palm-shaped trees made of concrete and equipped with recharge slots for smart phones and tablets.
Morris-Paris expects such services to develop further. "Enhancements featuring direct messaging, location based services, and other tools that allow for more personalize, direct, and on demand services will greatly enhance the level of services provided to guests, as well as provide greater efficiency in providing that service," he said.
"The UAE as a whole has one of the strongest place brands in the world and tourist experience enhancing technologies have been adopted by people of all ages," said Morris-Paris.