Travel Counsellors is taking its home-based travel agency brand to the United Arab Emirates.
The Bolton-based independent travel retailer, which has 1,100 agents in the UK and abroad, expects to have its first agents in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in April.
In setting up in its sixth overseas market, Travel Counsellors has for the first time formed a joint venture by agreeing a deal with Dnata, the Emirates Group company that bought Travel Republic in January.
Harvey Lines, a former regional director of operations at Wings Travel Management, who has also worked for British Airways, has been appointed to run Travel Counsellors in Dubai.
Travel Counsellors already has agents in Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and Canada.
Steve Byrne, managing director of Travel Counsellors, said he hoped to have about 20 agents operating in Dubai and Abu Dhabi by the end of this year.
“As a company we are going from strength to strength and we have proved our business model can flourish even in the worst economic climes,” he said.
“We felt this was the right time to take our expansion strategy to the next level and believe the market in the UAE is ideal for us: the economy is strong and it is strategically located to provide a springboard to expand in the Middle East.”
Expansion plans have been under discussion since Travel Counsellors held a conference for its Gold status agents in Dubai last June.
As well as offering Travel Counsellors a foothold in a new market, the joint venture will give it access to Dnata’s strong commercial relationships.
This would result in its Phenix dynamic packaging system offering a more comprehensive range of product, said Byrne.
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