With the recent signing of the agreement between the UAE and Israel, the travel and tourism industry has its eyes set on a brand new source market, hitherto known yet to be explored. Salih Gozcu, Chairman, BTB Tours, shared his view on this important source market.
BTB Tours is a young and dynamic DMC based in Dubai serving more than 50,000 guests from Turkey, CIS market and have been the first to announce an agreement with Israeli tour operators. In terms of the profile of travellers to the UAE, it is still a very early stage to determine the type of travellers, their requirements and spending capacity. However, according to Gozcu, “For many years they wanted to see the UAE, so I can say, everybody will be the target market at first. By next year, we will have a much clearer profile of the Israeli travellers but at the moment they just want to see the country.”
“Currently, in terms of outbound destinations, Greece, New York, Turkey, Azerbaijan and some European countries are popular. Israel’s population is over 9 million and it is a rich country. All the tour operators we have connected with are very interested to sell the UAE. I can see that Israel will boom and this will be a new strong source market for the UAE in the next few years.”
Gozcu says that the main requirement will be 5-star and 4-star city hotels with Dubai and Abu Dhabi taking the bulk of the share. “They will travel mainly for cultural tours and to see the city and the attractions. The second will be for shopping. The average stay will be five to seven nights. We do not know yet about their average spend, but they are good spenders. From what we know, in other countries like Turkey, per person they spend around US$ 1,000-2000 in seven nights. But it is very important that they have kosher food. If hotels will not have that, I do not think they will get a share of the Israel market.”
BTB Tours agreement with Israel tour operators
He reiterated, “In my opinion the UAE-Israel normalisation agreement is a very positive news for the travel industry. Israel is a market from where people have always been keen to visit the UAE but due to political reasons were unable to do so. When it opens, I am very positive that the travel movement between the two countries will yield very good results business-wise to both parties.
In the beginning tourism will be the main reason, but in the future they will invest and buy properties and contribute to the economy. BTB have signed an agreement with three operators in Israel, one of which is the biggest operator in Israel, Mono Tours. The owner was here few weeks ago and we have met tourism boards, hotels and other partners to start collaborating for getting groups from Israel to the UAE. The initial projection is to have 1,000 tourists every week. It will be a 12-month, all year-round business, even in the summer I believe we can get a share in this market. I am scheduled to go to Israel again next month to make sure everything is in place for our partnership and that the UAE will be on top of every Israeli traveller’s agenda.”