MUMBAI: Dubai’s mission to host 20 million travellers by 2020 is facing challenges from factors like demonetisation in India and Brexit as it seeks new markets to boost its tourism industry.
“We have increased the number of markets we are looking at,” Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, told media in a telephone interview. “So we are opening up new markets and working closely with our partners — airlines and hotels.”
Mr. Kazim said factors like slowing economic activity in Saudi Arabia and demonetisation in India had had an impact on the number of travellers, including from key markets like India and Saudi Arabia, last year.
While the number of Indians travelling to Dubai recorded 12% growth in 2016, travel was impacted in the last two months due to the demonetisation in India.
India on top
India, however, maintained the number one spot for the second consecutive year in terms of the number of people travelling to Dubai, said Mr. Kazim. “We have seen great numbers from India in the past two years. India had become number one key source market for 2015 and they have maintained the number one position for the second year now. We have seen 1.8 million arrivals from India last year, which was 12% growth over 2015. Saudi was our key source market earlier and India surpassed Saudi in 2015,” said Mr. Kazim.
According to Dubai Tourism data, the city attracted 14.9 million overnight visitors in 2016, a 5% increase over 2015 and an impressive 4-year CAGR of 8%. About 80% are business travellers in the city while the rest are leisure travellers.
He said the number of travellers from China had shown double digit growth in the last couple of years and with the stabilisation of the Russian currency, the number of visitors from that country was also picking up.
“Few years ago, China jumped into the number 10 spot with 4.5 lakh travellers, and last year we saw 5.4 lakh travellers from China. We see lot of opportunity there. With stabilisation of the Russian currency, we see Russian travellers are starting to pick up again. The open sky policy of Dubai Airport has helped us to work with new destinations,” he said.
Dubai Tourism is opening more 3-star and 4-star hotels so that budget travellers from India also find the price attractive and stay longer.
“We have to make sure more and more Indian travellers know what Dubai has to offer. I have to make sure not only I get 20 million but also people stay longer in Dubai and make sure you come back again,” Mr. Kazim added.