BY DEBAJYOTI CHAKRABORTY
KOLKATA, 25 AUGUST 2022
To further consolidate India’s position as the top international visitor source market, Dubai tourism is now focusing on the Tier-1 and Tier – 2 cities of the country and the main objective is to connect with the trade and related local travel agents,other affiliates, campaigns, media etc and to send the message that Dubai is open for Pan India post covid.
In an exclusive Zoom Interview to The Travel and Tourism Times, Bader Ali Habib, Director , Head of Region – South Asia International Operations of Dubai Department of Tourism and Economy said that since the past two years India has remained as the numero uno international visitor source market and has been a very important market.
“ We have noticed there has been tremendous interest to visit Dubai from the tourists staying in the tier 1 and tier 2 cities in India. Besides road shows we are focussing on sales visits of our teams to those places. People are willing to travel about one to two hours by road to reach their nearest international airports and board flights from these cities. To further penetrate to those markets Dubai Tourism has taken a number of initiatives like organising road shows, meeting and tying up with the travel agents and other affiliates. These markets are likely to grow even in terms of capacity and flight availability ,”he added.
Bader Ali Habib further said that he himself has participated in the road show in June at New Delhi. Road shows have already been organised in places like New Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Road shows have been completed at the North and the West, the markets which have already very high prospects and to further expand the footprints road shows will now be held at South and the East.
“ There is a lot of potential from the Southern and the Eastern part of the country, from Kolkata it takes around 4 to five hours to reach Dubai, which is considered a short international air distance . Dubai is very well connected with India and there has been direct flight services from 21 cities and indirect connections from peripheral cities . There are a lot of opportunities for Indians to enjoy Dubai as it offers something to everybody, whether it is leisure, adventure, MICE, honey moon, families, etc and new attractions and hotels have been added in the last two years,” said Bader Ali Habib.
There will be ultra localised marketing strategies, for instance the people of the East behave differently , their purpose of visit or lifestyle choices are different with the other regions like the North , obviously we are trying to cater to those specific regional market demands.
UAE as a country has addressed the covid -19 pandemic exceptionally well and is a very agile and safe destination now . Lot of Indians who visit Dubai find the covid safety and general safety issues for family and women existing there and feel comfortable.
The USP of Dubai is that it is diverse , respects the presence of having over 200 nationalities and keen to show the people the history and culture and what Debai means to the world.
“ We are very easily accessible to India, very close to India and have eased the VISA processes. The whole idea is to make it extremely easy for the Indians to travel to Dubai. We are showing them now what is different and what’s new and why they should continue to come to Dubai,” Bader Ali Habib said.
Historically about 15 to 20 years ago Indians used to come to Dubai for shopping, purchasing duty free gold ornaments and experiencing attractions only. But since the past two to three years, a lot of Indians have been coming to Dubai to experience their culture and are visiting museums and art galleries, they want to understand the essence of Dubai.
Today many Indian visitors prefer offbeat – luxury camping experiences, skydiving, adventure tourism etc have become very much popular. Gastronomy has also become a very important pillar or a reason to travel. With over 200 nationalities a lot of our gastronomy is very very diverse. Some Indians want good Indian meals and there are many Indians who ask for fusion meals from a lot of international cuisines. Today anybody visiting Dubai will find multi national cuisines in restaurants which are located within five kilometres from their hotels from anywhere. Meals remained a very important factor for good holiday experiences for Indians.
THE NEW TOURIST HOT SPOTS IN DUBAI :
The Museum of Future, which opened earlier this year has been the star attraction now for the Indian visitors. Typically museums mean a thing of the past, but in Dubai you will see a thing of the future. How will Dubai contribute in the future and will look like in future.
The Deep Dive Dubai, the world’s deepest swimming pool has also become popular for tourist visits. A lot of Indians who are young and millenials have been asking for such experiences in Dubai. They don’t want typical downtown tours, safaris, they want something memorable that only Dubai could offer.
The View at The Palm, is a 240 metre high observation deck and from where visitors can have a 360 degree view of the Palm Island alongside the sparkling waters of the Arabian Gulf and Dubai Skyline are also offered to the tourists. It is both incredible and affordable.
Another thing that will attract the tourists is the Sky View at DownTown Dubai, where tourists can cliff hang from over 200 metres above the ground.
NEW HOTELS :
A lot of hospitality and hotels have also come up in the last couple of months. The most notable being the opening of the Taj Exotica Resort in Dubai, which has been the first resort brand of Taj Group in UAE. A lot more has come in in the five star, four star and three star categories. Budget, business and luxury hotels all have come up to cater the needs of the different sectors of visitors.
“ Our hospitality sector landscape now offers something for all sectors MICE, couples, families , solo traveler, cruise and the momentum continues along with our focus areas,”he added.
The next six months will be a bumper ride for Dubai as the Onam, Durga Puja, Diwali and the long festive seasons and holiday seasons begin. The first two months of this year was hampered due to the Omicron outbreak. “Typically in India the tourism peaks up in October – November and goes through till March. We anticipate a lot of numbers in the next half of this year obviously due to the FIFa World Cup and the Asia Cup in Cricket because a lot of people will station themselves in Dubai as Dubai has been a major transit hub of all major airlines. We have an ambitious target for India, “ Bader Ali Habib said.
The list of the top six countries visiting Dubai are – India, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UK, Germany, USA. Since 2019, India has become the top market for Dubai. In the first six months ( January to June 2022) of this year about 8,50,000 Indians have visited Dubai.
The officers and the offices of Dubai Tourism are closely working with the Russian and CIS countries as lot of tourists used to come earlier from those countries but has been badly hit due to the Russia- Ukraine war.
Emirates Airlines or Fly Dubai wherever they fly becomes an opportunity for Dubai to sell its tourism. Accessibility and connectivity have always been the USP for Dubai . Dubai has been branded and positioned as the most visited tourism destination of the world.
Dubai has a shared vision with other cities in UAE like Abu Dhabi and Sharjah and offers tailor made packages also beside sole packages for Dubai. Earlier tourists used to stay around three to four days and the luxury tourists are visiting for seven to eight days.
“ We are also looking to make Dubai a stop over hub and a lot of Indians stop at Dubai for going to Europe, USA and Australia. We want to leverage this and want to welcome these guests for a few days as a stop over. We know that people who come to Dubai return back with a different experience and want to come back again. It has a big potential as Dubai is a stop over hub not only for the Indians bit also for other countries in these regions. So there are a lot of opportunities in this sector, ”he said.
Anil Punjabi, Chairman ( East) of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) said that there has been all sorts of support from TAFI to Dubai Tourism.
“ Dubai is the most selling sector from the East for the travel agents both during the covid -19 pandemic outbreak and even during the post covid period . It is a place of fun for all ages and it is basically a hub for business and a transit hub in connecting all Europe, USA and Canada and African points. And now its is becoming a cricketing hub too in the way for IPL Asia for cricket crazy fans living in this part of the globe, ”said Anil Punjabi.