Published on : Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Leading executives from global hotel and travel companies gathered in Dubai for the annual Arabian Travel Market conference last month. A 24-hour ‘stopover’ visa could soon be issued to attract tourists transiting through Dubai’s International Airport to stay a little longer.
In recent years, Dubai has achieved a great deal in terms of tourism growth. Dubai plans to double tourism numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million by the end of 2020.
Hence, the introduction of a visa that could potentially create hundreds of thousands of overnight visitors from countries whose citizens are currently not granted visas on arrival.
It can be a great way of boosting visitor numbers, especially since 70 percent of those using Dubai International Airport last year were transit passengers.
However, the chief executive of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Issam Kazim, said that visa relaxation has always been part of their growth plan, “When we rolled out the strategy in 2013 and we set out the roadmap of how to get 20 million visitors, we also looked at how we can make sure people spend longer times in Dubai, and how can we encourage more spend in the city.”
DTCM published its 2017 Annual Visitor Report during ATM, which said that the total number of hotel rooms in Dubai increased by 4 percent last year to 107,431. However, growth in visitor numbers meant that occupancy rates remained unchanged at 78 percent.
The report also revealed the impact that a more open visa policy can have on visitor numbers. The UAE announced that it would grant visas on arrival to Chinese visitors in September 2016, and to Russian visitors from January last year. After that, visitor numbers from Russia in 2017 increased by 121 percent to 530,000, while those from China increased by 41 percent to 764,000. China is now the fifth-biggest source market for Dubai tourism.