This period witnessed a 60 per cent growth in overnight tourists from China with January alone peaking at a dramatic 102 per cent, while attracting a total of 157,000 Chinese visitors across just the first two months. Reflecting an even more significant percentage increase, Russian visitation jumped 84 per cent over the same period last year with February delivering a massive 140 per cent volume increase to bring a total of 65,000 travellers in the first two months.
Consequently, both contributing countries moved up in their rankings as key source markets for inbound tourism to Dubai with China entering the top 4 for the first time and Russia moving to just outside the top 10, up 4 places from 15.
Backed by focused destination marketing campaigns across strategic feeder markets for the season, Dubai Tourism’s promotional efforts in China for Chinese New Year and Russia for the pre-spring break were strongly stimulated by the positive regulatory changes allowing both countries visa-on-arrival status into the emirates.
Dubai hosted the Forever Living Global Rally 2017, with 12,000 guests
With Chinese travellers being able to enter Dubai without the cost and time of procuring visas in advance since November 2016 and Russian nationals getting similar privileges in February 2017, the importance of ‘ease and convenience’ of access in driving tourism traffic is evident in the immediate results following the policy changes.
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Tourism, adds, “As we continue to invest in raising consideration for Dubai as the destination of choice for global travellers, our focus at Dubai Tourism is equally on increasing Dubai’s accessibility and removing barriers to travel by working closely with partners and stakeholders in the public and private sectors on both a federal and emirate level. Ultimately our collective aim is to make it as easy and seamless as possible for any prospective tourist from our diversified base of source markets to visit and revisit Dubai.”
As 2017 progresses, Dubai will capitalise on additional hotel room supply at various price points, as well as the recent openings of attractions such as IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world’s largest indoor theme park, and Dubai Parks and Resorts, the region’s largest integrated theme park resort to drive continued high performance from the sector.
Following the visit of a high-level Dubai Government delegation and private stakeholders to China in October 2016, Dubai has progressively improved its ‘China Readiness’ at an overall city level across all aspects of the tourist journey – particularly across infrastructure components and key pillars of the destination proposition.
Some examples of steps taken include increasing the number of Mandarin-speaking customer service representatives for tourism related activities across the emirate, widening acceptance of Chinese payment systems, allocating culturally trained staff in hotels, malls and attractions dedicated to inbound Chinese groups, providing additional food and beverage outlets catering to their tastes, and making Mandarin-language maps available at attractions and shopping malls throughout the city. Collectively, these measures, complemented by the in-depth understanding among Dubai Tourism’s trade partners of the Chinese traveller’s expectations and needs, as well as the market as a whole, have been instrumental in raising the profile of Dubai in the Chinese market.
Almarri signed off on a positive note: “While the strong performance in January and February is encouraging and to be applauded, it is important to stress that we still have much to do as we face a dynamic global environment influenced by various macro-economic and geopolitical challenges. Nonetheless, we remain confident in the strength of Dubai’s appeal as a tier 1 travel destination and will continue to mitigate risks by pursuing a diversified source market strategy as we work towards our target of welcoming 20 million visitors per year by 2020.”
Dubai Tourism will be exhibiting at Imex Frankfurt 2017 at stand E500.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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