The UAE’s commercial and touristic capital, Dubai, stands rock solid behind the Russian outbound tourism market and anticipates a ‘faster’ recovery from the ‘difficult and challenging’ economic times triggered by the Rouble devaluation, according to officials who spoke at the 11th Natalie Tours Congress in Dubai on Monday (September 28).
Marc Bennett, Senior Vice President for International Operations at Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing told over 220 executives from 10 Russian cities attending the Congress that strong signs of recovery were already visible from the strong bookings in Dubai hotels from the Russian travel agents and tourists.
“It is not the first time that difficult times have surfaced. Russia will recover and tourism business will recover. We will support you in every way we can to ensure strong Russian tourist visitations with longer stay,” he assured the key destination awareness and networking event by Natalie Tours, Russia’s top tour operator.
He said Russian tourists, who dominated the Dubai tourism industry landscape over the years, will be back in good numbers in the coming months and in the due course the recovery will surpass the previous year’s performance.
The decline in Russian tourist numbers began late last year (last two quarters of 2014) and continued with about a 40 per cent drop in the first half of 2015, he remarked, adding that the average holiday stay of Russian tourists in Dubai remains 10 days.
In the recent times, massive marketing, promotion and networking initiatives have been taken up by Dubai Tourism to boost up the outbound markets in the Russian and CIS markets. In October and November, a huge media campaign for Dubai will be launched in key Russian cities, utilizing the print, digital and broadcast mediums. A major roadshow was conducted in Russia last week. Emirates and flydubai have been strengthening the air connectivity between the region and Dubai, thereby facilitating the sustained growth of travel and tourism industry, Marc stated.
“Our initiatives, along with the efforts by DMCs like Natalie Tours and Alpha Destination Management and Dubai hoteliers will help strong assert the message that Dubai is an affordable destination for Russian outbound markets. We want to make them stay longer in Dubai by doing more things that are to become a reality soon,” remarked the official.
Stating that Dubai in the world’s fourth most-visited destination, he said about 16 million tourists are expected in Dubai in 2016. By 2020, the hotel beds inventory will reach 150,000, up from the present 92000. Dubai intends to double the tourist visitation by 2020 from the 2010 position.
David Loiseau, Vice President for Sales at Atlantis The Palm, said the key destination for Russian tourists recorded a 50 per cent drop in room nights following the negative Russian economic situation, but the situation has been encouragingly improving with 10 to 15 per cent increase in bookings now compared with the last year which had tough conditions. Repeat visitation, he said, has remained strong, giving indications of a big surge in hotel bookings in the coming months.
Ghassan Aridi, CEO of Alpha Destination Management, which, along with Natalie Tours organized the Congress, said Dubai tourism industry stakeholders has remained committed towards supporting their Russian counterparts in overcoming the challenging times. He said everyone acknowledges and appreciates Natalie’s efforts in bringing more Russian tourists to Dubai each passing year. Stating that this was a passing phase for the Russian tourism industry, he said Alpha Destination Management and Natalie Tours will continue to pursue the business with renewed enthusiasm to overcome the odds.
Natalia Vorobieva, Director General of Natalie Tours, said Dubai has remained the second popular destination for the company in terms of holiday package sales. Natalie Tours, she said, has maintained a strong position in the competition with Alpha Destination Management as its partner. She praised Emirates, flydubai, Atlantis The Palm and Dubai Tourism for their collaboration with Natalie Tours which enables it offer the best holiday experience to Russian tourists. “We have begun to see good recovery in the market and hope to see business increasing in the near future,” remarked Natalia. Russia’s top tour operator has designed incentive packages for its travel executives to encourage them market Dubai strongly among the Russian tourists.
Vladmir Vorobiev, President of Natalie Tours, said the four-day Congress serves as a ground for exchanging work experience, important negotiations regarding partnership, presentation of achieved results and discussion of future plans. The participants were given presentations by Natalie Tours’ key business department CEOs aoout the company’s agency policy, its strategic plans on the market and the tour operator’s efforts towards the UAE.”
“Over the next three days they will be given information about the new products in the Natalie Tours assortment of 2015/16, strategic plans and tactical steps taken by the company for growth and development in changing economic realities. The event includes an award ceremony for the best agencies in UAE sales, “mini-tours” to the best hotels and a presentation of new objects and bestsellers of the UAE hotel base. A gala dinner will be organized on September 30 at Atlantis The Palm,” he added.