Tailoring Tourism

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As Dubai remains a favored destination for Pakistani travelers, hosting over 254,000 visitors this year, Bader Ali Habib, Regional Head of proximity Markets at the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), shares exclusive insights. He was in Islamabad recently for one of his trade workshops, and Money Matters spoke to him in detail about Dubai’s innovative strategies, from creating a personal connection with each visitor, as Dubai expands its reach into cities like Faisalabad and Sialkot -two of Pakistan’s eight cities with direct flights to Dubai, including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta, and Multan.

Q) Can you share the key outcomes and impact of the recent Trade Workshops in Islamabad, Sialkot, and Faisalabad, emphasizing how these initiatives align with Dubai’s broader strategy in the Pakistani market?

A) The recent trade workshops in key Pakistani cities marked a significant stride in strengthening our ties with the local travel industry. These sessions facilitated insightful discussions on Dubai’s diverse offerings, fostering direct and meaningful dialogue with key players in the Pakistani tourism sector. By engaging tour operators and addressing their specific needs and preferences, we aim to tailor our approach strategically. The outcomes were not only encouraging, with an enthusiastic response from the travel trade community but also instrumental in aligning with our overarching goal to amplify Dubai’s presence in the Pakistani market.

These workshops complement our continuous efforts, including the successful “Chalo Dubai” campaign launched in mid-2023, by providing a platform to educate and inspire tour operators. While venturing into new markets like Faisalabad and Sialkot, our emphasis extends beyond mere promotion, aiming to cultivate enduring partnerships and broaden our reach beyond the eight Pakistani cities directly connected to the UAE. This holistic approach remains integral to Dubai’s strategy in Pakistan

Q) Considering the success of these workshops, how do these strategies contribute to Dubai’s appeal and differentiate it as a top global destination for Pakistani travelers?

A) Dubai’s strategic shift towards personalized and immersive experiences reflects our commitment to tailoring each visit to individual preferences. Through extensive research, we’ve identified diverse traveler needs, allowing us to customize our offerings to the unique preferences of Pakistani visitors. From families seeking diverse entertainment options to honeymooners looking for exclusive experiences, our approach is nuanced and personalized. Between January and October 2023, Dubai hosted 13.90 million international travelers, surpassing the visitor count during the same period in 2019 by half a million. Pakistan remains one of our top 10 source markets.

Our sustainability initiatives, exemplified by the 2040 Urban Master Plan and measures like the Dubai Can, showcase our dedication to responsible urban development. These initiatives not only meet current environmental standards but set new benchmarks, underscoring Dubai’s commitment to sustainable tourism. As we host COP28, these efforts will further enhance Dubai’s appeal as a destination that cares for its visitors and the planet, differentiating it as a top choice for Pakistani travelers.

Q) With Dubai currently standing among the top 10 source markets for international visitors, how does DET plan to tap into the tourism potential of Pakistan further, especially as you expand into cities like Faisalabad and Sialkot?

A) Currently, Dubai has direct flights from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan, and Sialkot Expanding our reach into cities like Faisalabad and Sialkot is a strategic initiative aimed at unlocking untapped potential in these vibrant regions. Our approach goes beyond promotion; it involves in-market events, destination training programs, and building lasting partnerships with the local travel trade. Recognizing the unique charm and direct connectivity of these cities to Dubai, our objective is to cultivate a deeper understanding of Dubai’s diverse offerings, making it a top-of-mind destination for travelers in these regions.

By proactively and collaboratively engaging with the local travel industry, we aim to create enduring connections that benefit both the local communities and Dubai’s tourism landscape. This strategic expansion aligns with Dubai’s vision to be a global beacon of economic vitality and tourism allure.

Q) Following the successful conclusion of COP28, how do you envision sustainability measures impacting Dubai’s tourism sector, and what role does the tourism industry play in addressing environmental concerns in the region?

A) The outcomes of COP28 reinforce Dubai’s commitment to sustainability, positioning the city as a global leader in responsible tourism. Our sustainability measures, including the 2040 Urban Master Plan and initiatives like the Dubai Can, are not just about meeting expectations but redefining them. As we set new benchmarks in sustainable urban development and eco-friendly tourism practices, Dubai aims to be a beacon for responsible tourism.

The tourism industry, in this context, plays a pivotal role in addressing environmental concerns. Dubai’s efforts in balancing tourism growth with environmental responsibility demonstrate a commitment to a greener and more sustainable world. Through initiatives like these, the tourism industry becomes a catalyst for positive change.

Q) Does DET cater to travelers who are looking for family-friendly and budget-friendly attractions? Are there specific initiatives to showcase new attractions and experiences to the Pakistani audience?

A) Addressing misconceptions about Dubai being expensive requires a multifaceted approach that goes beyond tangible incentives. While we offer incentives through the Kids Go Free campaign for free stays and entertainment tickets for children, our broader message is that Dubai is not just a destination; it’s a living canvas that accommodates every traveler’s unique journey, irrespective of their financial plan. By promising brand-new itineraries with attractions unexplored before, we invite Pakistanis to rediscover Dubai’s ever-changing landscape.

Our commitment is to offer not just a vacation but an immersive experience that resonates with diverse interests and aspirations. Dubai is a dynamic tapestry waiting to be explored, and we want every Pakistani to be part of this colorful journey. The ongoing success of initiatives like the “Chalo Dubai” campaign reinforces our message and contributes to dispelling misconceptions and showcasing Dubai’s accessibility to travelers with varying budget considerations.

Q) Dubai aspires to be the best city globally for visiting, living, and working. How does DET plan to achieve this, and what recent recognitions highlight Dubai’s status as a prime global destination?

A) Dubai’s global ambition as the premier city is underpinned by the strategic initiatives of the Dubai Department of Economic Tourism (DET), focusing on continual endeavors to augment the city’s allure for visitors, residents, and professionals. Recent recognition, including Remitly designating it as the world’s premier city for relocation, along with top rankings in the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards 2023 and Conde Nast Travelers’ ‘Where to Travel Next 2023 Hot List,’ underscore Dubai’s unwavering dedication to achieving excellence.

Dubai’s status as a prime global destination is further emphasized by topping the 2023 Executive Nomad Index for remote workers and being part of the UAE, named the second safest country in 2023 by Numbeo. DET’s holistic approach to service excellence reinforces Dubai’s position as a prime global destination for visiting, living, and working.

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