India is the number one source market for Dubai, Jamal Humaid Al Falasi
Dubai is known for its tourism. Can you tell us about the future plans and about the expansion that you are looking for?
For Dubai, we are looking to expand the cruise business in many folds. We have already started with the road shows in both India and China, followed by a road show in Spain this year. Our objectives would be to look for a source market where there is high demand. Not only from a perspective of Dubai but also from the understanding of a source market from our partners as well from the cruise line who have better knowledge of their daily source market. This is primarily the reason why we are conducting roadshows across.
Cruise tourism is an important part of tourism in Dubai. Any new upgrades that are unique to Dubai?
Dubai started promoting cruise tourism business in the year 2001. That’s when we had the first ever cruise terminal in Dubai and the first terminal in the Middle East. Since 2006, Dubai has been a pioneer home port for the middle east. We started cruise tourism with Costa and AIDA and have seen the business grow tremendously. If a comparison is drawn between the last two years of statistic, a steady growth of over 19% year over year is witnessed. We expect it to continue for years to come as well.
In addition, we have several maiden calls every year with new ships. In the previous year, we had 2 new cruise lines that have started to call Dubai. One of them being Thomson cruises which is one of the first United Kingdom based cruise to homeport in Dubai. This is a clear indication to say that the numbers have seen an increase as the cruise lines have found a demand from their customers for the region and hence they have started to think of larger ships. Compared to the previous years they are now seeing a big demand for Dubai Cruise so they start investing in Dubai market.
Today, Dubai has the biggest ship when it comes to the UAE Waters - MSC Splendida, which is close to 1,40,000 gross tonnage carrying 4500 thousand passengers. MSC decided to put such a big ship in the waters because previously they had a mid-size ship and the response was overwhelming. At the end of the day, the cruise liners wanted to ensure that they capitalise on this opportunity and therefore since last year big ships are being deployed.
What are the safety measures taken by Dubai Government and Tourism Department for a totally secure journey through the season?
We not only look for the safety of the passengers and our clients but also for our ships. So, we have affiliated with the police, forming a community - DMC and DMCA. We are working together always, even before the ship starts to sail. We ensure that we do a safety trial before the ship sets sail with cruisers. Also, we have a staff that is trained specially to ensure safety in case of any accidents. We have also sent crews to be trained in other countries (where the ships are made), to make ensure that the cruise can understand and make optimum use of the equipment in the ship. In addition to other safety methods, we also have an agreement with the cruise liners with detailed maps and direct access to the captain of the ship. In case of a crisis we would know the ins and outs of the ship and have clarity of direct orders from the captain.
Any highlight for the season 2017-2018 as it is about to begin?
The highlight would be 8 maiden ships which are coming in for the first time and we will have welcoming ceremonies for each of them. The season will be more competitive as all the ships that are deployed by the home port will be newer and bigger as compared to the previous seasons.
Also, Dubai has created specialised visas for cruise passengers that provide entry to multiple countries such as UAE, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. The visa permits you to be in the country for a duration of 30 days and is extremely cost effective. This facility encourages families to travel to the UAE. Passengers with a USA Visa and Green card holders can get access to Dubai by logging on to the DNRD website which is free of charge. Such opportunities are increasingly encouraging people to choose Dubai.
What is the role of the Indian market in terms of Dubai tourism?
India is the number one source market for Dubai contributing about 1.8 million travellers in 2016. In fact, this year from Jan to May 2017, Indian visitor numbers are 90,044,000, resulting in an increase in growth rate of 22% over the same duration from the previous year.
Dubai is also the top outbound market for India, which means that we surpass Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong. This makes Dubai the number one outbound destination for India.
It is a well-known fact that India has been the biggest source market for Dubai. Dubai in previous years was only seen as a land destination, now slowly with the efforts of Dubai tourism and all the cruise liners coming into play together, it is also seen as a cruising destination. The proximity that Dubai has to India can be seen as a key reason to be accepted in the market.
Today, India views Dubai much more than an only leisure destination. Now it is looked at as MICE, spiritual and student destination. These people usually travel in huge numbers. So, to facilitate the same we are well equipped and feel it is the right opportunity and right destination. Dubai has the inventory of flights as well as ships which can offer you world-class facilities. At this point of time, cruising has become so popular with the Indian market with the services provided to them. All in all, Dubai has the ease of transport and cruising which makes it a right fit for the Indian Market.