Dubai Tourism CEO Issam Kazim has said the government body is keen to ensure it makes Dubai as accessible as possible for tourists from around the world.

Speaking to Hotelier Middle East at Arabian Travel Market 2017, Kazim said: “It’s always important to make Dubai as easy to access as possible. If there’s any policy that makes it easier to access Dubai, we will be working on it.”

His comments come after Dubai reported 11% year-on-year increase in international overnight visitors over the first three months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. January to March 2017 saw 4.57 million travellers visit the city, reflecting more than double the growth achieved in the first quarter of last year.

Kazim said about these figures: “This is building on the growth that we saw at the end of 2016 where we were just shy of 15 million visitors coming into Dubai, which was a 5% increase year-on-year on as well.”

Kazim discussed the new visa-on-arrival policies related to China and Russia showing positive results already. He said: “We have identified the tools at our disposal that we are able to leverage, which will make it easier for people to come to Dubai. That’s why in 2014, we added 13 countries in the Eurozone to get visa on arrival.

“At the end of last year, we added China to that list, at the beginning of this year, we added Russia.”

After that, China saw 64% increases over Q1 2016 (230,000 tourists) , while Russia showed 106% increases (126,000 tourists) over the same period. The former is now the fourth top source market with Russia at number 11.

Kazim commented: “We immediately saw the impact; the China announcement was made after we had seen year-on-year growth anyway, so when the visa announcement was made, China jumped into the top four for us.

“Russia has always been a key market for us, but over the last few years with the economic situation, that had changed a little bit. But the change in visa status saw a surge in demand and travel from Russia.”

Another visa on arrival announcement made recently was that Indian citizens with a US green card or valid visa could gain visa on arrival in Dubai. Kazim added: “India has been the number 1 market for us and we have seen a steady growth; hence why we have announced this new rule, which will be rolled out from May 1.”

Based on Dubai Tourism’s Q1 figures, India became the first ever market to record nearly 580,000 visitors in any one quarter, with a 23% growth in arrivals between January and March.

By Devina Divecha
Hotelier MiddleEast

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