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HomeNewsInternationalDubai’s India priority: Stopover, summer travellers and luxury

Dubai’s India priority: Stopover, summer travellers and luxury

With 6,87,000 Indian arrivals, first quarter 2024 growth recorded at 12%. India, Dubai’s top tourism source market, contributed 2.46 million of 17.15 million tourists in 2023.

Dubai recorded over 17 million international overnight visitors last year. Nearly 2.5 million of these visitors were from India, its top tourism source market. As the destination eyes breaking into 20 million club this year, India’s strategic importance as its top tourism source market obviously falls into greater spotlight. Dubai has identified three key segments that it plans to target in order to grow arrivals from her top tourism source market, namely, stopover, summer travellers and the luxury or lifestyle segment.

With Dubai being a major transit hub of network carriers like Emirates, getting Indian transit passengers make Dubai stopover can greatly boost it’s current numbers. And given that a lot of Indians already having US visa or the UK residency, can easily enter Dubai for a week or two on a short-term visa at a price which is less than half of what one otherwise pay.

According to Bader Ali Habib, Regional Head of Proximity Markets, Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism, “The ‘stopover’ is extremely important for us. It is a fact that the larger share of Indian who come to Dubai are transit, especially from pockets like Gujarat, because one of the family members live in US or Europe. At this point the load factor is at its peak. So we sometimes feel ourselves a bit limited in terms of capacities. But you do realize that there are so many people who are not even entering Dubai. So instead of looking at the baseline, let’s look at what we already have, that is, the Indian who come to the Dubai airport. If we can get them to Dubai even for 24 hours, families, couples or solo travellers, will really help position Dubai and get more capacities.”

Diaspora is key to Dubai’s aspirations as a stopover destination for transit passengers. “As part of the wider extension of ‘stopover’ is to focus on diaspora. There is a big Indian diaspora in the US and the UK. And we see that Dubai has been the gateway. We want to make sure that they acknowledge Dubai as a destination where they can stop and shop and play and have fun and then go.”

Summer travelleres are another target segment. “Summer in India is when we typically see that there are opportunities to fill more seats. The focus is on how we can lift more people in May, June, July and August. The advantage we have is that we are very close to India and at the heart of it is that May-June are the months when India has school breaks,” said Habib.

In order to tap into this segment of travellers, Dubai has recently introduced ‘Kids Go Free’ campaign that allows family with up to two children under the age of 12 can each stay-play for free. “We have added many more stakeholders to this campaign. We have onboarded multiple hotels and for the first time we also went B2B. Historically it’s been B2C campaign,” added Habib.

Luxury is another segment being eyed by Dubai Tourism. “I think we are already positioned well with this segment. But there is a lot more interesting things that we are doing this year.” The NTO, he revealed, is lining up some campaign, PR activation, etc. specifically catering to the rich and the ultra-rich aiming to position Dubai as a lifestyle destination for the affluent. He also mentioned that India has 16 to 17 extended weekends and with easy availability of Visa, more Indians, particularly the affluent class, can be targeted to visit Dubai for shopping or high-end Michelin dining, etc.

Dubai welcomed a record 17.15 million international overnight visitors in 2023, registering a robust 19.4% YoY growth over the 14.36 million tourist arrivals in 2022. It’s top tourism source market, India, contributed 2.46 million to the total arrival. As Dubai inches towards breaking in into the 20 million arrival club, the first three months this year has already seen 12 percent tourist arrival growth from India, contributing a strong over 6,87,000 tourists in the first quarter of the year.

“Last year was impressive and we are continuing on the same trajectory. India is a market where we are not holding back at anything. We are just more aggressive. We don’t want to be comfortable. Indians are evolving, and so much so that every few months there is a new news saying that this state, this region or this economy or this indicator that highlight some or other segments, and we keep an eye on that,” Habib added.

Dubai hosted 200 agents from India at the recently concluded ATM 2024. They were assembled from a whopping 35 Indian cities cutting across tier I, II and III cities or markets. These 200 agents are part of a total of 550 international agents, pegging India’s share alone at over 36 percent! “This is the largest fam trip that we have done since 2017. We haven’t done 200 agents from any one particular country. We truly believe in education and that seeing is believing. Sometimes the news in the media could be misleading and we don’t know the direction it will be leading to, so we try to own the narrative as much as possible,” he said.






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