‘People can spend 10 days in Dubai and still not be able to see all it has to offer’

Issam Kazim, CEO, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) tells NEETA LAL that they are working towards changing the common perception of Dubai as a short-duration destination

Neeta LalUpdated: Monday, December 16, 2019, 07:14 AM IST
article-image

How important is the India market for Dubai Tourism (DT)?

n With more than 1.2 million tourists arriving from India in the first eight months of 2019, India continues to top the list of Dubai’s source markets for inbound tourism.

We are particularly appreciative of the sustained interest and advocacy of all our Indian guests. We have a broad programme of year-round activities in the India market, that spans trade events, marketing, social media and media relations – including our award-winning Be My Guest campaign with brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan.

As the largest source market for international visitation to Dubai, India is also an important focus from business events, weddings and travel perspective. Dubai Business Events, the city’s official convention bureau, works to identify and attract a broad range of events, from small corporate meetings to large-scale conferences and incentives and has a dedicated representative office and team in India that is always working and connecting with planners, buyers and industry professionals. In addition to this, as part of a calendar of roadshows around the world, our team visits major cities in India including Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and New Delhi, joined by key stakeholders from Dubai including hotels, DMCs and venues.

Why should Indians choose Dubai as a tourism destination?

Indian audiences are sophisticated travellers with a growing level of global travel savviness. We want to show them that what they will find here is not replicable because it's something we create each time for each visitor – so no two visits will ever be the same, yet each will be remarkable.

Increasingly, travellers want not only to see a city, but to experience it: to connect with the place’s culture and heritage and discover something unique and personal to them. Dubai may feel familiar to Indians but it is a place that is constantly evolving, with new things to see, taste and experience.

Additionally, Dubai offers fantastic connectivity to cities across India, with an average flight time of just 3-4 hours and no jet lag to worry about. The city offers a wealth of attractions which appeal to families, couples, adventure-seekers, solo travellers and more, as well as diversified culinary options catering to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

What are your recent most exciting product offerings?

2020 will be a landmark year for Dubai, a fact recognised by Lonely Planet, which named us one of the world’s must-visit cities next year in their ‘Best In Travel’ 2020 list

Upcoming attractions include:

The first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA region), Expo 2020 in Dubai is preparing to welcome 25 million visitors between 20 October 2020 and 10 April 2021.

The theme of the Expo is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, a belief that innovation and progress are the result of people and ideas coming together in new and unique ways. Expo 2020 kickstarts in October 2020 and will coincide with the UAE’s 50th anniversary in 2021, marking an important milestone for the UAE.

Attendees will include people traveling from all over the world, with 70 per cent expected to be international visitors, the highest proportion in Expo history. The six months from October 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021, will be part of an unparalleled event extending a warm Emirati welcome to the world.

The Museum of the Future is a unique incubator that explores the future of science, technology and innovation – a concept embodied by the stainless steel torus structure adorned with Arabic calligraphy.

The world’s tallest observation wheel, Ain Dubai, which stands over 250 metres tall on Bluewaters Island. It promises breathtaking views of the city's beautiful coastline and famous landmarks such as Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah and Burj Khalifa.

The View at The Palm, Jumeirah, Dubai boasts the unique vantage point from where one can see the Palm Jumeirah in its entirety. Also, one will be able to see the complete Dubai skyline in a single view from the observation deck.

What are your long-term and short-term plans to promote the destination in India?

Our ongoing goal in a high-performing market like India is to further build advocacy in both larger and smaller cities, and continuously communicate the evolution of the city’s proposition so our guests can always look forward to discovering a new side of Dubai.

In 2019, we kicked off with the third wave of our award-winning Be My Guest campaign featuring Shah Rukh Khan, which achieved a staggering 90 million video views in India.

This was then followed by a series of tactical campaigns linked to key seasonal visitation peaks, including summer school break, monsoon season and Diwali.

Looking ahead to 2020, we will further optimise our campaigns to attract our key target segments of families, couples and friends/ solo travellers from both Tier 1 and Tier 2/3 cities across India.

We will show that there is even more to Dubai than its iconic attractions, highlighting the city’s hidden gems, its cultural heritage, natural beauty and celebrating some key occasions such as Ramadan.

Thus, the campaigns will be designed to keep Dubai relevant to the traveler who has been to the city before, highlighting unseen Dubai. The aim is to refresh the conversation around Dubai, to surprise and delight potential visitors.

Which regions are you focusing on in India – metros? Tier 2 & 3. Why?

DTCM is not only focusing on the urban Indian millennial but also the consumers based out of Tier II & III cities in India due to the increasing affluence, evolving consumer behaviour and spending patterns in these regions.

These cities play an important role today since the spending capacity of the consumers is increasing due to higher disposable incomes.

This evolving segment makes up for the majority of the consumers present on WhatsApp and accessing major media channels such as vernacular newspapers, YouTube, TikTok and major e-commerce apps.

Challenges you face in India while promoting Dubai?

n One of the biggest challenges that we are working towards is changing the common perception among tourists that Dubai is a short-duration destination. One of the areas of focus is on increasing the length of stay of travellers.

There is a perception that Dubai is a stopover destination and that staying for 2-3 days is more than enough; however, that is not correct. People can easily spend around 10 days in Dubai and still not be able to see all the things that it has to offer.

Besides this, Dubai is also focusing on increasing the number of visitors and repeat visits by travellers within the year.

What have been recent trends in terms of Indian travellers choosing Dubai as a travel destination? What kind of experiences are they seeking?

Indian travellers are excited to visit Dubai to see the wide range of attractions that Dubai has to offer. Landmarks like The Dubai Mall and Dubai Fountains, the Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah continue to be popular, while visitors are increasingly drawn to world-class entertainment like Bollywood Parks and Motiongate, as well as cultural and heritage attractions.

Our focus has always been to ensure that we offer something for everyone. Indian visitors to Dubai have a youthful profile compared to other markets, with a high proportion of Generation X and Millennial travellers.

These segments are typically experience-seekers and heavy users of social media; for them, Dubai offers countless unique and shareable experiences as well as the ability to customise their trip to their interests.

In the past three years, we have seen a pronounced trend amongst Indian visitors, which has seen them moving away from staying with friends or relatives in favour of hotels, as well as an increase in numbers opting for 4/5 star hotel bookings.

Dubai’s fantastic range of hotels caters to every preference and budget, including popular Indian brands such as The Oberoi and Taj Hotels.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Exclusive: Mumbai's ‘living statue’ aka Gold Man opens up about his struggles

Exclusive: Mumbai's ‘living statue’ aka Gold Man opens up about his struggles

Pride Month Special: Scrapping of Article 377 hasn't helped LGBTQ community in smaller cities, says...

Pride Month Special: Scrapping of Article 377 hasn't helped LGBTQ community in smaller cities, says...

FPJ Exclusive: 'The Yoga Institute' director Dr Hansaji Yogendra gives tips to deal with...

FPJ Exclusive: 'The Yoga Institute' director Dr Hansaji Yogendra gives tips to deal with...

Pride month exclusive: 'I don't know if laws are accepting to the fact that a homosexual can adopt,'...

Pride month exclusive: 'I don't know if laws are accepting to the fact that a homosexual can adopt,'...

Exclusive: Sanjeev Kapoor suggests these healthy cooking practices on World Food Safety Day

Exclusive: Sanjeev Kapoor suggests these healthy cooking practices on World Food Safety Day