Tourism Strategy and Development

Lessons from Dubai | Sumaira Isaacs, Tourism Strategist

A tourism specialist who develops destinations on a global scale has shared some valuable insights into how locations, including Dubai and Pakistan, are promoted to help grow their visitor numbers.

Tourism strategist Sumaira Isaacs explored these topics and many more during a ProfileTree Business Leaders interview.

Sumaira began by outlining her substantial experience in the tourism sector.

“I have been in the industry for over 25 years.

“I feel that my tourism history is as old as Dubai’s tourism history as I literally started when there was just one hotel to promote and the tourism board had just four staff.”

The Canada-based tourism consultant outlined some of the projects used to help grow Dubai as a destination.

“Because I have been part of that evolution I have seen Dubai go from camels to 4x4s in just 10 to 15 years.

“One of the earliest projects I ever got involved with was trying to create safaris, we would end up on top of a dune with one or two clients who used a scheme offering a free stopover in Dubai. That’s how we started.

“Dubai moved forward very rapidly and that meant opportunities for all of us. We learned through Dubai’s growth and we contributed to Dubai’s growth.

“Some of the key projects included the IMF World Bank meetings in 2003, we pitched and worked on that project for nearly five years.

“One of my favourites? We built a fort in the desert for 1,500 Jaguar clients and had the Jaguar cars launching out of the tower of the fort.

“We did everything from government meetings to incentive programmes and conferences.”

Should a government have a role in developing tourism, and how should they go about this?

“In Dubai when we started tourism it was a call from the top. The leadership realised the value, as oil will run out, so they needed to create another economy.

“We did not feel that we were working for different tourism organisations; we had one goal, one mission, and that was from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed that we had to put Dubai on the tourism map.

“Little did we know how well we would do this and how quickly it would happen. We all took pride in it.”

How important is it for governments to support tourism promotion?

“Governments can really play a key role. For another example, in the case of Pakistan – I happen to be a Pakistani living in Dubai and Canada – Pakistan has had a very traumatic history.

“However there has been a change in leadership, we have a new Prime Minister who has a vision for tourism. His mantra is ‘tourism, tourism, tourism’. This never happened before.

“But because he has made the call, it is a call to action Pakistan can use to turn itself around in its economy. Tourism can contribute and people are beginning to pay attention.

“It’s really really important, it’s the leadership in the government and it’s the political will, it’s for them to realise that it is a job creator and economic multiplier.

“It’s absolutely a no-brainer.”

Sumaira explained ‘MICE tourism’ and outlined its role in developing a destination.

“MICE tourism is meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions or expos.

“It is a term for business tourism where you are involved with corporate meetings and inviting the corporates to take their incentive groups or their conferences or corporate meetings to another part of the world.

“In developing countries it is relatively new, for example I am involved with Pakistan right now. They are trying to get their tourism strategy right and I can’t wait for them to get onto the business tourism strategy because that’s where the real profitability comes from.

“Business tourism also calls for newer investments in infrastructure, the cities have to really get behind it. Having a convention centre is critical and so are five star hotels, road infrastructure and museums.

“Everyone has to be up to a certain mark, a certain standard.”

To discover more expertise from Sumaira Isaacs watch our full video interview.


Sumaira Isaacs –


Summary: International Tourism Development and Tourism Strategy, Lessons From Dubai With Sumaira Isaacs

In our video interview, international tourism consultant Sumaira Isaacs explores destination development, tourism strategic planning, Dubai tourism, Pakistan tourism, international tourism management and much more.

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