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Tuesday, 28 August, 2018, 17 : 34 PM [IST]

‘Every city of India is our target’

Dubai government is planning to waive off visa fees for children below 18 years visiting emirate between July and September. Khalid Al Awar, Manager, India & Pakistan, International Operations, Dubai Tourism, in an interaction with Prasenjit Chakraborty says that this move is expected to boost tourist numbers during the off peak season of Dubai.
QDubai Tourism’s Vision 2020 aims to welcome 20 million visitors. What is the progress and what kind of contribution are you looking at from the leisure segment in this goal?
We have a vision to attract 20 million visitors by 2020 and the progress in that direction is very good. Our yearon- year growth is also satisfactory which is higher than global average. In 2017, we achieved 6.2% growth globally and for India the figure stands at 15.2%. I firmly believe that we would continue to maintain this growth. When we talk about leisure segment, it is huge and very important element for achieving the goal. We have different segments like family, couple, visiting friends and relatives, etc., and all these segments play an important role. We as Dubai Tourism pay equal attention to all the segments since Dubai is a place for all. There is no doubt that Dubai is becoming a premium leisure destination globally.

QWhat per cent of millennial compose of leisure travellers from India? Are you looking for any new campaign to target specifically millennials?
When we device our marketing strategy we make sure that every segment is targeted. We keep a close eye on the changing travel trends at specific destinations. When I talk about different segments of India, millennial is definitely one of them. The millennials are different from other tourists in terms of gathering information about a particular place, area of interest, etc. Moreover, they are very techno savvy.

We target millennial population a lot which is evident from our campaign Be My Guest with Shahrukh Khan. A significant portion of the campaign is addressed to millennials. We keep a tab on what they like and what interests them and based on those we target them. As far as our campaign is concerned we take a holistic approach. We do not focus only on millennials as it would be unfair to other segments. For Dubai, India is a round the year market.

QCountries in the GCC namely Oman, Bahrain and Qatar have also scaled up their marketing strategies in India. Against this backdrop, how do you see the competition?
The way you look it, Dubai had the headstart in becoming the key destination for visitors globally and as well for India. When it comes to other countries which might be competitors for Dubai, we make sure that we work closely with our neighbouring countries to leverage our proximity and unique value proposition to make sure that when travellers come to Dubai for that reason they get the taste of everything.

QWhat are the perceptible changes you observed when change in visa regulation was brought in? How it is going to impact the final tally?
When you bring in such big and important change, a big market like India needs time to accommodate and adapt to the changes. That is why we are working closely with airlines as well as travel trade to educate clients. The end consumers must be aware of everything. We are in the process to provide visa on arrival for those who stopover in Dubai for 48 hours. This will be implemented in next couple of months. Our government is also planning to waive off visa fees for children below 18 years, who would come to Dubai between July and September and this move is expected to boost tourist numbers during the off peak season.

QWhat do you think are the challenges for leisure travel from India? How do you plan to address it?
We have to give every city of India equal and fair importance as each city has huge appetite for travel. We also have to make sure that we are in constant touch with the travel industry and agents. Every city of India is our target.

QIndia continues to remain a top source market for Dubai. How challenging it is to maintain this feat?
I don’t think it’s a challenge and we will continue to maintain the feat.
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