Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman & CEO, Colm McLoughlin was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the eighth Middle East Hospitality Awards (MEHA) at The Ritz Carlton, DIFC.
In conjunction with the 20th edition of The Hotel Show Dubai, and part of the Middle East Design and Hospitality Week, the Middle East Hospitality Awards gathered the region’s hospitality professionals and industry veterans to be recognised and celebrate the most outstanding properties, projects and people in the Middle East’s vibrant hospitality industry.
McLoughlin was awarded for his contribution, spanning over three decades, in shaping Dubai’s tourism, hospitality and retail sectors. The award also recognised McLoughlin’s commitment to promoting Dubai globally through the many high-profile sponsorships of Dubai Duty Free.
The award was presented by last year’s awardee Gerald Lawless, former president and CEO of the Jumeirah Group and immediate-past chair of the World Travel and Trade Council.
Commenting on the award McLoughlin said, ‘I am thrilled and delighted that I have been selected to receive this award. I attribute it absolutely and totally to our team of staff and the effort they make in making our business successful and of course to my chairman HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum who has been terrific support at Dubai Duty Free and our other operations since the beginning’.
McLoughlin explained that the airport retailer spends 2.5% of its annual turnover, which in 2018 reached US$2.015 billion, in promoting Dubai Duty Free and the city of Dubai.
Dubai Duty Free’s long-standing association with international sporting events such as the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the horse racing at Newbury and Ascot in the UK, and Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh in Ireland, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open held at Lahinch Golf Club in Co. Clare, Ireland have all been instrumental in promoting Dubai globally.
’36 years ago there were two or three thousand hotel rooms in Dubai. We have seen a big change from that in the industry’, said the Lifetime Achievement awardee while concurring with statistics in Ventures Onsite Hotels Market Report indicating that “Dubai’s hotel room supply alone is expected to reach 132,000 in 2019, with the Emirate aiming to complete 160,000 hotel rooms by October 2020”.
The EVC & CEO of the world-famous airport retailer said, ‘Like shopping malls, airlines and roadworks, the hotel industry is part and parcel of the system that is essential in promoting tourism and visitors to Dubai’. He attributes the exponential growth of Dubai and its hospitality sector to ‘Dubai Government’s positive and definite attitude to make it work and make it the best in the world’.
Talking about relevance of trade shows like The Hotel Show for the hospitality, and travel and tourism industries in Dubai, McLoughlin said, ‘I think long-term events like the Hotel Show Dubai, now in its 20th year, are successful. I think the story has to continue all the time. It is the continued growth of shows like this that encourages so many visitors to come to Dubai’.
McLoughlin was accompanied by his wife Breeda as well as Salah Tahlak, Executive Vice President – Corporate Services and Bernard Creed, Senior Vice President – Finance of Dubai Duty Free.