UAE tourism roadshow debuts in Asia

THE SEVEN members of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which have been receiving double-digit growth in arrivals from Asia, are banding together to capture a bigger market here, making their first unified roadshow appearance in Asia this week.

After making a stop in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, the Seven Emirates, One Destination roadshow made its way to Singapore on Thursday, with a 20-strong contingent comprising of airlines, hotels, DMCs and tourism authorities. Organised by the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities (NCTA), a federal tourism body formed in 2009 to represent all UAE members, workshops were also held.

Mohammed Khamis Al Muhairi, director general, NCTA, told TTG Asia e-Daily: “It is not a destination branding per se. Instead, we want travel experts and consumers to differentiate between the various emirates and to know what each one has to offer – be it heritage, city life or beaches.”

He explained that Singapore and Malaysia were chosen for the roadshows because both markets had delivered “good volumes” and had “excellent air connections with the UAE”.

Khamis said: “The Asian market is a strong one, and it will continue developing. We anticipate a 10 to 15 per cent growth in volume next year.” The number of arrivals from Asia jumped by 18 per cent from 2009 to 2010.

“We are now introducing the other emirates that are not so known by the Asian market,” he said.

However, Singapore-based travel professionals pointed out that Dubai continued to be the most popular choice and the UAE was often not seen as a destination.

Elizabeth Chua, executive director, Universal Travel Corporation said: “The majority tends to stay for only one or two nights as part of a stopover, and only does so after a travel consultant persuades or recommends the option to them.”

But numbers are climbing. “Growth has been highly positive,” said Vincent Lee, managing director, Luxury Tours & Travel. “Since we started offering the UAE in 2010, a couple of hundred customers have made bookings with us.”

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