At ATM 2017, Gulf Countries Council turns to India to boost tourism in the region

Colliers International shared their findings about the Indian market being the biggest gainer in terms of growth in the APAC region  during a seminar held at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Gyan Bhushan, Economic Advisor, Government of India11Colliers International at Arabian Travel Market shared these findings on April 24, 2017 at Dubai World Trade Centre during a seminar entitled ‘Capitalising on Experiential Travel: China & India Mega Source Markets’.

Already key markets for the region, China counts an average of 122 million outbound tourists annually and India contributes 22 million, with overseas spending calculated to be $252 billion and $15.4 billion respectively in 2015. China’s outbound tourism market is currently growing, on average, 6.7% year-on-year, while India’s market posts average annual growth of 7%.

Gyan Bhushan, Economic Advisor, Government of India who was present during the occasion, said “I’m happy to be a part of this global event. Both UAE and India have shared healthy relationship in the past. It is Government of India’s initiative to promote Yoga, Wellness and we are trying to promote it in across the world. We are looking to attract tourist into India for the same E Visa has been liberalized it is valid for 60 days and entitles you an entry three times.”

The GCC is home to a number of globally-recognized tourist attractions and continues to draw visitors from all over the world as a result. As markets in Europe and other GCC countries continue to feel the pressure of low oil prices and depreciated currency rates, it is key that tourism bodies and private sector hospitality, travel and tourism brands continue to explore new markets.

EI5A7881wSpecially speaking to Tourism First Magazine was Vinit Dinesh Shah, Chief Destination Management Officer at Dubai Parks and Resorts, said “We plan to capitalize on growth of visitors to Dubai from the key source markets to achieve the footfalls for 2017, the company plans to open upcoming attractions Six Flags Park and Legoland Hotel. Six Flags Park is expected to open in 2019 but inauguration of Legoland is yet to be confirmed. The company has a target to attract 5.5 million unique guests to Dubai Parks and Resorts and 6.7 million in total visits. If we look at the results published by Dubai Tourism the number of visitors to Dubai has increased they have done a lot by giving visa relaxations for China, Russia and India all these elements will help bring in the tourists from these countries into UAE.”  

The trend is largely proliferated by increasing levels of personal wealth and a demand for experiential travel.

India, meanwhile, is home to 433,000 HNWI, with 59 million considered urban middle and educated urban and 97 million counted as urban blue collar workers.

Making a total of 12 recommendations concerning visas, accommodation, cultural sensitivities and marketing, the report advises GCC-wide multi-entry visas with similar principles to the Schengen Area; hotel welcome kits and signage in guests’ native languages; promotion of cultural celebrations and festivals from each country; and targeted loyalty programmes.

Family Desert Camping - High Res1According to the report, hotels should aim for a volume-driven strategy when tapping the Indian market, creating culturally tailored experiences in order to boost their reputation in the guest’s home market.

Colliers International also assessed the compatibility of key GCC destinations with four traveller types: Corporate, MICE attendees, leisure first-timers and experienced leisure travellers, for both Indian and Chinese visitors.

The UAE scored the highest level of compatibility for both nationalities thanks to its blend of modernity and culture, strong trade ties with both countries and growing airlift between major cities.

In both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, India was the top performing source market in 2016. In Dubai, 1.8 million nationals arrived last year compared to 1.6 million in 2015 and in Abu Dhabi, which welcomed a record-breaking 4.4 million visitors in total in 2016, 323,388 were Indian. According to the figures from Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, this marked an increase of 15% on 2015. As per the figures of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority visitors from India to Ras Al Khaimah in Q1 2017 grew by 35 per cent, while the number of guest nights taken by Indian tourists grew 49.4 per cent in the same period, when compared to Q1 2016. Furthermore, the average length of stay of Indian guests in Q1 2017 has grown by 10.6 per cent.

Haitham Mattar who was appointed in May 2015 as CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority to drive business and leisure tourism into the emirate spoke about the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority ambitious plans of attracting one million visitors to Ras Al Khaimah by the end of 2018. 

“As part of our vision to attract one million visitors to Ras Al Khaimah by the end of 2018, India will be an important contributor, and is currently our fourth largest international source market. We have seen a growing trend from Indian inbound tourism for short leisure stays, MICE and in the wedding sector. Our aim is to promote the full breadth of unique activities and events that can be enjoyed in the emirate, with a view to encourage Indian travellers to lengthen their stay in the destination. We are optimistic that through focused efforts and participation in various roadshows and trade events, tourism from India will continue to develop in the coming years,” said Haitham Mattar, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.

Oman, which demonstrated the highest compatibility with corporate arrivals, welcomed 299,568 Indian tourists to the Sultanate in 2016. Numbers increased 17% in 2015 compared to 2014 and, over the last five years, Oman has seen an increase of 60% in the number of arrivals from India.

Capitalizing on its breath-taking scenery, Oman is also working to promote itself as a wedding destination to tourists from West Bengal and Kolkata.

In Qatar, Indian visitors enjoyed a higher compatibility across all four visitor types, with the country now the second largest source market after Saudi Arabia. Numbers are expected to grow in line with the launch of several high-profile sport and leisure attractions over the coming years.

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