‘The Indian market has never let us down, not even pandemic time’
Dubai Tourism continues to remain upbeat about the potential of the Indian market. Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing in an conversation with TravelBiz Monitor spoke about the tourism strategy post Covid for the Indian market, and regional tourism opportunities in the Middle East region.
Post pandemic, how is Dubai geared to tap the Indian market?
The Indian has always firmly stood behind us. A good number of Indian tourists visited Dubai even during the pandemic. The only unfortunate part is that India has fallen to number 2 position in terms of overseas tourist ranking. I can’t wait for India to regain its position as the number 1 destination. While Covid-19 norms have eased, we have seen Indians flooding the Dubai market; they have always been supporters of Dubai’s tourism market, and will always be. We don’t see that as an issue. As far as our strategy is concerned, we are putting more efforts into introducing new products to ensure that people come here more as friends or a VFR destination as also a family vacation destination. We have mapped that a large number of Indians transit through Dubai airport annually. Currently, only 5% of that number stays in Dubai, so our strategy is to gradually increase that to 10% in the coming years to ensure all our hotels have adequate business.
Dubai has a lot of tourist attractions. How are you working to spread out tourist traffic across these hot spots?
A lot of people have been to Dubai once or twice or even more. What we are now trying to do is to push the new attractions in Dubai. We had various media and other FAMs undertaken during ATM and also during the Dubai Expo. All of this was geared to showcase Dubai as a favourite destination, and I am sure this will catch on in due course.
How has been the response to the Dubai Expo and its impact on Dubai’s tourism business?
The Dubai Expo unfortunately coincided with one of the peak times of Covid. But I must say that during the first 7-8 months of the Expo, the footfalls didn’t match our expectations. However, the last 3-4 months made up for most of the lost time, and while we are looking at Dubai Expo figures, we have come very close to our forecast done 4-5 years ago, and have exceeded on our revised forecast which was done during Covid. We ended with over 24 million visitors to Dubai Expo. The first three months of this year actually more made up for the entire Expo period.
Other destinations in the UAE and the larger Middle East market are now actively promoting their tourism opportunities. How do you view this?
The entire Middle East and the GCC market is going to benefit with neighbours in the region having stepped up their marketing activities not only in India, but worldwide. I see a lot of scope for regional tourism, and the more tourists that come in the region, the better it is for Dubai.
The 2022 World Cup is being hosted by Qatar in Doha, and we are extremely bullish about the market. We have seen a meteoric rise in hotel bookings for excursions pre World Cup or post the tournament. These kind of sporting events will benefit the entire region as a whole.
In terms of trade outreach, what can we expect from Dubai Tourism?
In the immediate future, we will definitely step up our marketing efforts with the trade. The travel trade has always been active partners. We are going to encourage a lot more weddings and MICE movement, through the trade who have always stood by us through all these years.