With the summer finally setting in the Middle East, schools being closed and another long holiday around the corner, a quick indulgent summer escape is the answer. TTME provides detailed insights into the destinations where locals and expats are headed to for spending their vacation.
Suresh Dissanayake, Assistant Vice President—Sales & Marketing, Adaaran and Heritance Aarah Resorts, Maldives
Adaaran has a selection of resorts that provides privacy, incomparable dining experiences, mesmerising surroundings and curated experience for both adventure and relaxation seekers. From family rooms to villas, we cater to all their needs. Middle Eastern guests especially look at privacy and larger rooms for family accommodation. Halal food is also a key requirement. Adaaran Resorts not only offers world-class service and products but also presents attractive rates on an all-inclusive basis. The ease of access to the resorts is also an advantage for us. Our resorts – Adaaran Prestige Vadhoo, Adaaran Ocean Villas, Adaaran Water Villas – has offerings to cater to the Middle Eastern market and their diverse needs through cuisine, accommodation and other services.
Glenn Daniels, General Manager, Dhigali Maldives
Dhigali is quite a contemporary resort in the Maldives that is operating for a year now. We cater to a wide range of guests; with 180 rooms, we have the capability to host large groups, families and honeymooners. We have a few rooms that are fairly well hidden to provide privacy to some of our guests from the Middle East market. Our Batuta Restaurant has a great story behind. The food comes from different parts of the world which I don’t think is being offered in the other islands. We deal with different business partners in the Middle East and to create an ease, we make the booking system and reservation 24 hours a day.
Daks Fernandez Gonzales, Head—Office of Product and Market Development for India and the Middle East, Department of Tourism, Philippines
The GCC is a growing market of great interest and strategic importance for the Philippines. Within the GCC, Saudi Arabia is the most significant in terms of numbers and ranks within our top 15 markets, followed by the UAE. Filipinos make the Philippines definitely a lot more fun! Great hospitality combined with stunning beaches, exciting urban adventures and breathtakingly beautiful natural settings is offered with exceptional value for money! Halal certified restaurants are expanding throughout the country. Many of the well- known four and five-star branded hotels, especially in the capital has full Halal kitchens. The Philippines achieved its highest number of international visitors to date in 2017 with a total of 6.62 million. Of that, Saudi Arabia as the highest performing market in the GCC ranked at 16th place with 54,716. The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) is looking to expand its marketing activities in the region to encourage both travel trade engagement through the launch of campaigns and expanded product awareness programmes, as well as to encourage consumer demand through increased media and influencer awareness and traction initiatives.
Charitha Yattogoda, Sri Lankan Consul General, Dubai
Sri Lanka is one of the most sought-after destinations by the Middle Eastern travellers. We have seen an increase of tourists from this region especially during the hot summer months. All the Middle Eastern carriers and our national carrier have packages that attract the locals and expatriates living in the Middle East. One of the many reasons to select Sri Lanka is it is a four hour flight from UAE with over 70 flights a week from Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The new e-visa system enables travellers to get the visa online, thereby making it a hassle-free experience. The consulate along with the Sri Lanka tourism board organise regular roadshows in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah for agents to be aware of the rich diversity of our beautiful nation. We have witnessed a very good growth of tourists from the Middle Eastern region increasing it up to 6.5 per cent last year and we are confident that the numbers will further increase.
Jonas Sjostedt, General Manager, Centara Pattaya Hotel and Centara Nova Hotel & Spa Pattaya
Our Middle East guests travel for many reasons. They come not only for business and leisure, but also for big family vacations, a honeymoon, or even healthcare in Thailand. Their travel season is different from other markets. That helps smooth Thailand’s tourism demand year-round. Pattaya is a city with beaches, water sports, colorful nightlife and diverse shopping. Our properties here not only offer attractively-designed accommodations at the most convenient locations but also a full range of amenities to match the demands of guests from all over the world. According to the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, last year Thailand received about 790,000 tourists from the Middle East. We love to observe our guests’ needs and we try to make their stays with us easier. For example, we prepare a Middle Eastern and Turkish menu for guests who request for it to make them feel at home during their vacation at Centara.
Darren Darwin, General Manager, Anantara Kalutara Resort, Sri Lanka
The GCC market is an important segment for us, especially from May to October due to the two Eid holidays. This market loves to book private pool villas due to its utmost privacy. Balancing exclusive serenity with alluring accessibility to Sri Lanka’s iconic natural and cultural attractions, the resort offers the best of both worlds – authentic exploration brought to life by local experts and cushioned by luxury indulgence. All our outlets are halal certified and the resort is well equipped and offer facilities such as Qiblah direction, etc. To cut it short, a Muslim traveller can comfortably experience the resort with ease. GCC produced 1394 room nights in 2017 and 941 room nights till June 2018. The Middle East market is considered as an important and fast-growing market for Sri Lanka. With dedicated team members posted in UAE and Saudi Arabia focusing on the Middle East traveller, we are creating awareness amongst the luxury tour operators specialised in tailor-made holidays.
Harun Dursun, General Manager, Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum Turkey
As growing markets, the GCC and the Middle East are showing an increase in visitor numbers and the UAE specifically is of vital importance as it is a gateway to travellers from other parts of the globe. Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum is unique as it caters to all travellers from couples to families to adventure seekers. We provide a wide range of activities including a variety of sports and water sports, wellness offerings, wide selection of restaurants and bars to choose from, and much more. Our focus is also on providing our guests with the utmost in luxury hospitality from our legendary Mandarin Oriental service to stunning accommodation that include some of the largest rooms and villas on the peninsula – perfect for large Middle Eastern families. We, of course, provide halal food cater to our Middle East clientele. We understand them very well and are flexible to provide anything that they might require from halal and Arabic inspired cuisine to the utmost in privacy. Our Arabic speaking butler team delights our guests and understands the needs and requirements without any delay at any time. Traffic last year from the Middle East into Turkey was very positive with many sources citing increases of up to 10 per cent in visitors from the GCC. We strive to improve our guest offerings by constantly adding new programmes and enhancements every season. We also know the Middle East traveller well and ensure that we cater to their needs whether that is through our outstanding villa offerings, luxurious service and providing the utmost in privacy and culinary experiences.
Sandra Leibrock, Director of Sales and Marketing, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa
Oman is accessible from the UAE by road, air and sea. Along with visa on arrival, this convenience makes Oman the perfect destination for short term vacations in GCC for travellers from UAE. Nestled against a backdrop of rugged mountains in a stunning bay within the Gulf of Oman, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa is an integrated beachside facility with 19 bars and restaurants, a private beach and five swimming pools in a setting unlike anywhere else in Oman. The hotel offers unique excursions and experiences native to the destination of Oman. As one of only five turtle nesting sites in all of Oman, we offer complimentary guided snorkelling tours with our dedicated turtle rangers. Family is a major focus and we have worked on creating specific experiences such as the introduction of a new watersports facility to attract more Middle East travellers to our resort.