With right strategy and right products, Dubai is firing on all cylinders to tap the potential of the growing might of the Indian outbound
Dubai has been aiming to increase the number of Indian arrivals with accelerated pace. Dubai welcomed 910, 000 Indians in 2021, making India the number one source market. This is the result of the carefully crafted strategy and decisive measures taken by the Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism to counter and manage the impact of the pandemic.
During January – March 2022, Dubai welcomed 3.97 million international overnight visitors, up from 1.27 million visitors during the corresponding period last year, reflecting a massive 214% YoY growth. And the growth reaffirmed Dubai’s position as the most sought-after destination in the global travel and tourism market. Dubai also ranked No.1 globally in hotel performance with 82 per cent occupancy in Q1 2022.
Bullish over the response from the India, Dubai has developed a multi-pronged strategy to further boost the arrivals from India. “We know that the potential is much bigger in India. We want to keep the numbers growing as Dubai has been continuously adding more and more to its landscapes and attractions. Its a family-oriented destination. Dubai is a very safe destination. English and Hindi are widely spoken in Dubai. I feel whoever comes to Dubai feel at home and those who still considers Europe as their primary destination, we want to change that mindset and perception,” Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said during a media interaction on the sideline of the recently concluded Arabian Travel Mart 2022.
Talking about the new strategy post Covid, Kazim said that Dubai launched its strategy from the global perspective. “Our plans and strategies are still relevant today. We talked to our partners, and we could always repeat the same strategy to increase our numbers. Dubai is not 1–2-day destination; we want to increase the average length of stay. We want to increase the spends, not by becoming more expensive, but by offering much more to people to do and experience in Dubai. Today, 25 per cent of visitors that come to Dubai are repeats and by repeats it does not mean 24 months. It is within 12 months. The fact that we have 1/3rd of the world's population within a four-hour radius and India contributes to that quite a bit,” the CEO added.
Replying to a question over the air connectivity, Kazim said that Dubai has an open sky policy. “We are looking at every potential market as an opportunity. We work with Emirates and flydubai. The Chairman of Emirates and our airports are the same person. He is not protecting Emirates. He kept the competition open so that Dubai can benefit. We don't want to limit ourselves. If Emirates and flydubai are not able to increase their numbers for whatever reasons, we are willing to go and initiate a dialogue with local carriers and convince them. And Dubai Airports, whether it is DXB or DWC are willing to have that dialogue and facilitate more carriers coming into the city as well,” he informed.
He informed that Emirates’ flights from India is on an average 90% full. “But, we only get maybe 30% of that to Dubai and this is not good. We are working on to get some more Indian visitors to visit Dubai as a stopover,” he said adding that Dubai Tourism is working closely with airlines and hotels to tap this beyond Dubai traffic as well.
On the marketing and promotions, Kazim said that Dubai Tourism is working very closely with its private and public partners and ensure that they have all the relevant information. “I think that's the unique position that Dubai is in. Because out of necessity, we did not have oil and gas and natural resources to rely on but travel trade became our biggest bread earners. That’s why we work as a team with the private sector, and we feedback to them. They listen to us, they adapt the change and come back to us. When it comes to promotion, we work very closely with a defined target,” he said and added that we're working a lot more digital today to become a lot more targeted with our messaging, pushing the right message to the right audience at the right time with the right product at the right price so all of those things are quite important. Then, of course, the trade would understand the needs of their own database, clientele,” he informed.
He further said that Dubai Tourism tells the private players about the campaigns and segments that we're looking at, we are interested and where they are in terms of interest. Accordingly, those partners will put all of their offers into the system and take it forward with our support.
Talking on the segments, the CEO said the leisure is big right now, almost 80 per cent but 20 per cent is still business. “MICE is a big segment for us. Meetings and incentives are a big opportunity for us to capitalize on. Conferences and exhibitions are historically doing well. But that doesn't mean that we will rest on our laurels by any means. We still want to expand because their still exist right opportunities,” he said.
On seat entitlements being saturated between India and Dubai since last few years, Kazim said that it will impact the potential as the demand is right there. However, the concerned authorities are looking into this and will present the case to find a solution.
On Dubai Expo 2020, the CEO said that 192countries participated in the Expo that was visited by 24 million visitors. “During the preopening of the expo, we had expectations and if I compare that to what we achieved I would say that if it wasn't a pandemic, I can only imagine how much bigger and better could it be. we still had 192 countries that participated. We had 24 million visitors for the Expo 2020. Dubai opened up post pandemic with the RTPCR testing being so easily available processing. We have more than 97% of our population vaccinated. And this augurs very well for us,” he added.
Murari Mohan Jha from Dubai
(The trip was sponsored by Dubai Tourism)