WTM 2013: Dubai challenges operators to be creative to boost sales

WTM 2013: Dubai challenges operators to be creative to boost sales

Dubai Tourism is challenging tour operators to come up with more powerful and creative promotions in a bid to double annual UK visitor numbers to the destination by 2020.

The tourist board is tasked with adding another 700,000 UK visitors a year to Dubai by 2020 as part of the 2020 strategy to double UK visitor numbers. The strategy also aims to double overall annual visitor numbers internationally from 10 million a year to 20 million.

Ian Scott, UK and Ireland director, said it was asking tour operators to come up with more innovative ways to significantly increase the number of holidaymakers booking holidays to Dubai.

The latest figures show UK visitor numbers are up 11% to Dubai this year to date - the first time there has been double-digit growth since 2009. Official government figures out today show that for the first nine months of this year Dubai had 7.9 million international visitors, a 9.8% increase on the same period last year. The UK is the third largest international market to Dubai behind Saudi Arabia and India.

"The UK is trending slight ahead. The economic climate is more condusive to travel now and it's about building on that momentum. We have got to step up our game in terms of marketing," said Scott.

"We are very open-minded. We have asked tour operators to double their numbers because we need to double ours. We need them to be more creative. Yes, let's do the January turn-of-year campaigns but it cannot just be that. It's about how we can genuinely attract another 700,000 visitors from the UK. We want some big ideas."

Scott said joint marketing promotions and fam trips would form part of its UK strategy but is hoping operator partners will come up some more unusual campaigns and promotions to drive sales longer-term.

It is hoped the extra visitor numbers will come from increased business travel traffic, more families visiting and more promotion of events in Dubai.

The destination is already seeing more investment in its infrastructure to accommodate a broader range of visitors, with more theme parks and family attractions planned as well as  more mid-range hotels and the newly-opened airport, said Scott.

An events calender has also been designed to help the trade sell the destination around high-profile events, such as music festivals, art exhibitions and sporting competitions. "More operators are building these events into their marketing plans. We are hoping more operators will also feature Dubai and we need to work quite hard to ensure the trade can get access to tickets to these events," he added.

The destination is also bidding to host World Expo 2020 and if successful, expects this to provide a major boost for tourism. It is already down to the last four, with the winning country due to be announced in late November. The expo is held every five years and involves hundreds of countries showing of the latest innovations in architecture and technology.

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