Dubai Duty Free helped to strengthen Dubai’s reputation as a leading international tourist destination, said Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Colm McLoughlin as he took to the Global Stage today at Arabian Travel Market 2023.
In a fascinating conversation with Euro News Dubai Bureau Chief Jane Witherspoon, McLoughlin recalled highlights from four decades at the helm of Dubai Duty Free and shared the organisation’s plans for the future.
Dubai Duty Free is one of the largest duty free operations in a single airport in the world and covers a total retail area of 40,000 square metres across Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport. In addition, Dubai Duty Free has raised the profile of the city of Dubai through the promotion of high-profile international events such as the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which generates over US$1 billion in TV exposure for Dubai.
McLoughlin said: “Over the past 40 years, it has become increasingly important that the entire journey is enjoyable for the passenger, and a key part of this journey is spent at Dubai Duty Free.”
McLoughlin arrived in the UAE in July 1983 as part of the consultancy team from Aer Rianta, the Irish Airport Authority, which was contracted by the Dubai Government to launch a new duty-free operation at Dubai International Airport. He has remained at Dubai Duty Free since then and became Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the organisation and its subsidiary businesses in 2011.
Under his leadership, Dubai Duty Free grew from a US$20 million company in 1984 to a $1.74 billion operation last year, with 2023 sales expected to reach over US$2 billion. Aligning with the ‘Working towards net zero’ theme of ATM 2023, Dubai Duty Free will be increasingly emphasising CSR initiatives and sustainability in the coming years.
During the session today, McLoughlin was presented with the Pearl Award, a prestigious award created especially for the 30th edition of ATM. Presenting the award, Danielle Curtis Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “It is an absolute privilege to present you with the prestigious Pearl Award. This is fitting tribute to a stalwart in the tourism industry and someone who resonates with many of the ideologies behind the award, including wisdom, enlightenment and longevity.
“I am delighted to share this accolade with you in recognition of the incredible contribution that Dubai Duty Free, under your stewardship, has made to tourism and the economy, in a career that spans over 40 years. We thank you for all that you’ve done and wish you even more success in the future.”
McLoughlin concluded: “I’m absolutely thrilled and excited to receive this award and I would like to thank the team and staff at Dubai Duty Free, and of course our chairman H.H Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
“Looking to the future, it is important that we keep on evolving and moving forwards delivering a ‘better tomorrow’ for travellers. We need to ensure that we continue to raise the benchmark when it comes to customer experiences while also adopting sustainable practices which protect and future-proof our environment.”
ATM 2023 is held in conjunction with Dubai World Trade Centre and its strategic partners include Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) as the Destination Partner, Emirates as the Official Airline Partner, IHG Hotels & Resorts as the Official Hotel Partner and Al Rais Travel as the Official DMC Partner.