Health & Safety Vision: Global Village
In Conversation with Sutharson Sathaiah, Senior Manager of HSE & Risk at Global Village.
Can you tell us how Global Village combatted the challenge of COVID-19?
Combatting the challenges of COVID-19 was a fundamental and central element of our preparations ahead of re-opening. Events that transpired this year were unprecedented, requiring a massive collective effort from an ecosystem of internal and external partners. First and foremost, we worked alongside organisations at both local and international levels, engaging in dialogue at every available opportunity with industry experts and other authorities. These included the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), British Safety Council, and of course our own Governmental departments. Furthermore, we partnered with SHEILDme, a leading producer and supplier of sanitisation products and are using their 100% natural products to sanitise our park.
Following the conclusion of Season 24, we comprehensively assessed all areas across the park to ensure customer comfort and safety under “new normal” conditions. Our teams and partners worked tirelessly to overcome pandemic-related challenges and to ensure that new normal policies and best practices were successfully implemented across every area of the park.
What HSE implementations were introduced by Global Village?
The re-opening of Global Village, as well as the success of our Silver Jubilee Season, were both dependent on successfully implementing a host of new HSE practices and subsequently ensuring that their effectiveness is maintained.
Digital transformation has played a key role in our COVID-19 response. We have implemented contactless payment solutions through the brand new Global Village App and website for online ticket purchase and parking payment, whilst the new GV Pay by noqodi, e-wallet allows contactless payment across all Global Village outlets for guests who prefer to avoid using cash.
Cleaning schedules have been significantly increased and disinfection protocols for all touchpoints are in place. Masks and social distancing is mandatory and guests are encouraged to regularly use the more than 600 hand sanitiser stations that have been installed across Global Village. Staff at all restaurants and kiosks must wear gloves and change them regularly. And thermal screening has been implemented at all entry points for both staff and guests.
We are an entertainment destination, so a lot of thought was also put into how we implemented the various precautionary measures. Teddy Bears at the Kids Theatre and Falcons at the Arabian Square serve to ensure social distancing in seated areas. Fun themed masks have been distributed to kids since opening. A new Street food area, Fiesta Street, was implemented to avoid crowding in Kiosk Street. Seating has been placed in front of the Main Stage. Every effort has been made to ensure that each precautionary measure is designed to protect and improve our guest experience.
Tell us what are the expectations for 2021?
First and foremost, our Silver Jubilee anniversary is running for 25 weeks in total up until April 18, 2021. Despite the challenges leading up to our October launch, the story so far has been a successful one. As such, we are expecting to continue to deliver exceptional cultural experiences for our many guests between January and April. We have plenty of events and entertainment in store throughout this period, and we expect higher numbers of guests as we continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of our HSE protocols.
Global Village has set a new benchmark for travel, tourism, and leisure destinations at the regional and international level in terms of cleaning and hygiene practices. We are already recognised for our safety record and have officially become the first Theme Park worldwide to win the “Sword of Honour” from the British Safety Council for our high standards of safety management. Furthermore, we also received the Dubai Assured Stamp from Dubai Municipality, Dubai Economy and Dubai Tourism (DTCM) in light of our stringent preparations for opening.
We will undoubtedly be building on the many improvements we have made to our guest experience over the coming months and years.
How will Expo 2020 Dubai boost Global Village?
We are very proud to have worked over the past months to support the Expo teams and will continue to do so. Expo 2020 Dubai will bring many tourists to the country and we will undoubtedly welcome many of them through our gates. Global Village is delighted to have been able to support the “open for business” message by showing how to successfully and safely operate a major leisure destination and we hope that this will go a long way to support the efforts of the nation in alignment with the strategic directives of the United Arab Emirates’ leadership and the Dubai Tourism Strategy.
In terms of the market, what indicators are there to see an increase in business for Global Village?
From a Global Village perspective, the early success of Season 25, the positive response and reception from the wider community, and the interest we are witnessing on a daily basis are all promising signs. Global Village has always attracted businesses from around the world and has enjoyed an extremely diverse customer base. With the travel and tourism sector in terms of visitors from outside the UAE also showing encouraging signs, are very optimistic about the remainder of the season and the success of our partners.
Do you believe by 2021 that people in UAE would be comfortable to go out in big numbers to go to places like Global Village?
We are confident that outdoor destinations that are vigilant about safety measures will continue to attract guests. For our part, we will work alongside our many partners to ensure that we apply the highest possible HSE standards. By upholding this commitment, we will retain the trust of our partners and guests throughout the months to come.