ME’s outbound connect

Travelling to outbound destinations has opened a plethora of options for the Middle Eastern traveller. The increase in accessibility to varied countries, has also opened doors of business for potential outbound tour operators, hotels and airlines. Industry experts highlight what they have on offer for the region.

Shehara Rizly

Outbound is gaining prominence in the Middle East. Experts of the industry elaborate on the USPs in offing:

Palladium Hotel Group
Significance of Middle East market
Sandra Polo Canudas,
Asia & MEA Commercial Director, Palladium Hotel Group, shares that the hospitality industry in Asia has increased the value of transactions for the last five years and the Middle East market is one of them, thanks to Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel, and the new Bless collection Hotels. “We have seen an organic growth mainly towards the aformentioned hotels. Palladium Hotel Group has hired Plus Point media agency to be our best ally in the region allowing us to have more awareness about ME,” she says.

Accommodating large families
She further informs, “Our management packages provide a committed service and a support network specifically designed to achieve the highest possible returns. Bless Collection hotel, garners a hedonistic luxury experience. Those who seek to delve deeper into music will choose our Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza and Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife. The Grand Palladium is well-oriented to children, teenagers and adults. At Agrotourism Sa Talaia, one can relax in rooms with avant-garde designs. In addition, one can rent exclusively for a single family.”   

Halal food
“We do offer options. We already had requests of this kind especially for MiCE and small groups,” she says.

Proximity to shopping and leisure
Canudas states that proximity depends on the destination. “For example, in the case of Madrid, we are situated in the Salamanca neighbourhood where all the major brands are concentrated. In Ibiza, we do not have shopping centers, but it is worth taking a walk in the city center,”she added.

Outbound trends of UAE travellers
Kathryn Wallington, Country Manager – UAE, Travelport, says that based on Travelport’s analysis of bookings made through all global distribution systems (GDS), some interesting patterns in the inbound and outbound tourism markets of the UAE could be discerned. “For instance, our statistics showed that Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh were the fastest-growing destinations for travellers of the UAE from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, which have seen surge in growth of flight bookings. Additionally, ahead of this year’s Hajj, the UAE recorded the second highest rise in advanced flight bookings to airports around the holy city of Mecca,” she said. “In terms of inbound tourist arrivals, according to our analysis, the UAE was ranked the third most popular long-haul destination for the UK travellers during both the Christmas season in 2018 and the summer holiday in 2019. Insights as such can give travel agencies, airlines and other players in the industry a competitive advantage,” she said.

Booking with agents
The latest Travelport’s Global Digital Traveller Research in 2019 discovered that although a wide range of technologies – especially social media, augmented and virtual reality experiences – are now increasingly influencing travellers’ decision-making, the dominant majority of leisure and business travellers in the UAE also treasure the recommendations given by travel professionals, such as travel agents and tour operators, informed Wallington.

Accessible tourists
Regarding accessible tourists, the #TravelUnified campaign, launched by Travelport in April 2019, has tremendously boosted the use of the DPNA Special Service Request (SSR) code in the Middle East and around the world. “We are very happy with the improved awareness in the travel industry to provide sufficient assistance to passengers with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The campaign has been extended by four months to the end of this year, and in the coming weeks we will announce the enhanced utilisation status of the DPNA SSR code,” she adds.

Current trends
Timothy Njihia, Area Manager UAE, GCC Countries & Pakistan (Offline markets) for RwandAir, says that the outbound travellers onboard our flights from Dubai come from the following segments: Holiday or Vacation/Visit Friends & Relatives (VFR), Corporate Travel for Business and Trader Traffic, that is, traders who come from all over Africa. Travel from the UAE is mainly to the hub (Kigali) and onward to Western, Central, Eastern and Southern African destinations in the RwandAir network.

He further explains, “Lately, there is a general trend of the local Emiratis travelling to Rwanda for tourism and other nationalities travelling for trade and business. This trend is attributed to the good relations between the UAE and Rwanda with business communities from both countries reckoning a ‘hub to hub’ connection between Dubai and Kigali.” “From the segments mentioned above, this is a combination of both expats (other nationalities), residents (nationals of Rwanda plying the route from Dubai/Kigali/Dubai) and local Emiratis who have since started to visit Rwanda,” he says.

Initiatives to upgrade tourism
“We work very closely with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Dubai Tourism for augmenting tourism into Rwanda and Dubai. Over the last 2-3 years, we have partnered on various initiatives that have seen tourism traffic soar between the two countries,” he informs.

Working with agents
“We recently took some agents to Rwanda for a Fam trip for 2 nights/3 days. It was followed up by a trade mission visit to Rwanda that had a delegation of over 17 senior executives from 8 UAE industry sectors, in conjunction with our GSA (Al Rais Travel). We expect a similar delegation from Rwanda to the UAE,” he added.

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