For UAE travel recovery, international tourism should return

Published on : Wednesday, February 24, 2021

As the domestic market has been UAE’s prime livelihood of the tourism sector in the last 12 months, conspicuous figures from the said industry have confessed that they are yearning for the international travelers to return, whenever the restrictions related to coronavirus allow them to move without any hindrance back to the country.

In the panel discussion, former Jumeirah Group CEO, Gerald Lawless, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority CEO, Raki Phillips and Stijn Bastiaens, VP and commercial director, MEA for Hilton, were all present at the Arabian Business Forum where they talked about tourism’s significance behind UAE’S full economic recovery.

As staycations have somewhat saved the sector, as the fury of the pandemic world over are forcing countries to shut down their borders and stop international flights. To quote Gerald Lawless, who is also an ambassador for the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), admitted: “International travel is vital for the whole industry and for our industry here in the United Arab Emirates. We cannot sustain the whole industry just on staycations.”
The World’s Coolest Winter campaign of the UAE has reportedly drawn around 950,000 domestic tourists, contributing about $272 million to the country.

Earlier Phillips disclosed that tourism declined 30 percent during COVID but RAK remained one of the best-performing emirates in the country. It remained so as it was boosted by different campaigns like the shortcation promotion last summer and the current funderful promotion.

Pre-Covid, he explained that the split between international visitors and the domestic market was 70-30. However, that changed radically to 90-10 all through the depressing times. He said: “The international market is key for us. It’s so important that we can open.” The top contributing source markets for RAK include Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Germany and the United Kingdom, even though the latter two remain out-of-bounds as a result of strict travel bans from the respective countries.

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