Market optimism shot in the arm for 15th edition

Dubai Shopping Festival organisers are hoping the optimism that has infected businesses and markets will increase visitor numbers and spending at this year’s event, which kicks off today, in the wake of one of the worst financial crises the world has had to face.

Despite a Dh10 million drop in the festival’s budget to Dh65m this year, Laila Suhail, CEO of the Dubai Events and Promotion Establishment (Depe), which organises the event, told Emirates Business the money would be “better allocated and more efficiently spent”.

“Yes there is a crunch,” she said at a press breakfast yesterday, “but it’s not as bad as it is being made out to be”.

“We still have 20 key sponsors and 80 support sponsors. We’re being contacted even today about sponsorship opportunities.”

Suhail said her department’s annual budget remained the same as last year, but that it had to be reallocated across new ventures that will be announced in coming weeks.

“Our new mandate at the Depe is two-pronged: organising these annual events, but also developing the retail sector through more initiatives. We will also be looking closely at improving the retail sector by monitoring services, policies and procedures,” she said.

Suhail also told this newspaper the Depe would unveil a new corporate identity in the near future, but did not share any further details.

Over the past 14 years, the DSF has managed to revitalise the economy in what is traditionally one of the year’s weakest sales periods, by working with tourism and retail stakeholders to roll out near irresistible hotel and airline deals, offer shopping discounts of up to 75 per cent across 3,000 retail outlets, attract A-list entertainment acts and raffle off Dh1.3 billion in cash and prizes.

And some 35 million visitors have spent Dh74bn at the event over the years, according to Depe statistics.

The DSF is a key plank in the government’s strategy of attracting 15 million tourists by 2015.

Eighty cars and Dh3 million in cash is being given away during the 32-day-long 15th edition.It runs until February 28. and features 150 local and international events – although not all are quite of the same calibre as previous years, when artists such as guitar legend Santana and  Bollywood playback singer Asha Bhosle have performed in Dubai.

The Depe is hoping those attractions will bring in between two and five per cent people than last year’s edition, which attracted 3.35 million visitors, said Suhail. And with consumers having reined in their profligate spending, she expects visitor expenditure to stay the same as last year, at Dh9.8bn.

To achieve those targets, Depe will continue to target emerging markets such as India and China. In the latter market, restrictions were lifted on outbound travel to countries including the UAE.

Several new initiatives should also boost UAE residents’ footfall to DSF events.

A new “Shopper’s Day” promotion across select shopping malls offers a one-day incentive for early bargain hunters who can win spot cash prizes through scratch-and-win coupons. There is also a one-day-only discount of 15 per cent for coupons to the Lexus Mega Raffl today. Today Dh500,000 is being given away, money that Suhail said was being routed from opening ceremony costs as an investment into the development of the shopping event.

And after a spell away to accommodate the construction of Dubai Metro, performers and funfair bring the DSF back to popular sites such as Muraqabat, Rigga Road and Dhiyafah Road. The Depe CEO and her team want to give back to consumers with the free entry to the tonight’s opening ceremony at Dubai Creek.

 

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