The Al Naboodah Group with over 60 years’ experience in business and more than 45 years in the travel industry, will take steps to expand its business opportunities across KSA, UAE, UK, Canada, Turkey and Azerbaijan over the next few years. Nasir Jamal Khan, CEO of Al Naboodah Travel shares his plans with TravTalk.
Could you share your plans for boosting inbound tourism?
The main focus will be on enhancing inbound travel to the UAE. We are expecting a reasonably impressive number of travellers to the UAE due to the urge to discover Dubai. Over the years we have seen the number of visitors rise in terms of inbound travel to the UAE. Airlines, hotels, travel agents and tour operators have been enjoying a good market share of business over the past few years and the numbers are growing. In terms of visitors, we have seen a number of emerging markets visiting the UAE and Dubai in particular. The campaigns run by all of the emirates have proved that the UAE is definitely a hub for tourism in the Middle East.
Al Naboodah recently opened a new office in KSA; could you share some details?
Saudi Arabia has the highest outbound potential in the Central province in Riyadh, which is why we started off there. We undertake corporate business, outbound leisure, packages, tours, and represent one airline at present. We are working towards representing more airlines and tapping outbound business to Dubai. People coming from Saudi Arabia have the opportunity to travel by road as well. With a large population, there is significant potential for online business, but they will take time to move towards ecommerce as the older generations still prefer face-to-face interactions when booking their travel requirements.
Could you share your expansion plans in Europe?
Apart from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UK, Canada, Turkey and Azerbaijan are on the cards for the next two years. We are working on timelines to start operations by the end of this year in the UK, and by the end of this year or beginning of next year in Canada. Next year we are also looking at Turkey and Azerbaijan. This will provide an opportunity to enhance both inbound and outbound business. The offices opening in other countries will complement our business here. The UK and Turkey are some of the high-potential inbound areas. Our presence in these countries will enhance the quality of our services, and as wholesalers we will sell products, both inbound and outbound, from those countries.
How is the GSA business at present?
Currently representing 11 of the world’s most renowned international airlines, Al Naboodah Travel has established a name for its service to the airlines, and the numbers keep growing every year. Before taking on representation of an airline, Al Naboodah Travel carries out a feasibility study based on specific criteria, and the same is done by the airline as well. Last year GoAir and SaudiGulf entered the GSA portfolio and we are yet to see how many will be onboard this year.