Whilst London and Europe remain popular, there is a need for the Middle Eastern traveller to explore emerging destinations. Trav Talk gathered information about new vacation spots for this year and key points on requirements by locals and expats to drive to these sites.
Zeljka Radak Kukavičić, Managing Director, National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro
Our quality tourism and mild climate is something which tourists from the Middle East mostly prefer during their stay. Montenegro attracts many visitors with its medieval towns and mountain landscapes whilst boasting of one of the most beautiful coastlines of Europe. As the Montenegrin coast is 293 km long with 73 km of beaches spread over 117 locations, it offers a wide selection of beaches – from secluded intimate bays to family orientated resorts, from spectacular sandy stretches to quaint rocky coves, accessible only by boat. With already good air accessibility and improved portfolio of tour operators, we expect to receive much more tourists in the next period.
Salih Ozer, Culture and Information Attaché of Turkey to the UAE
The UAE is one of the growing tourism markets for Turkey tourism. As the year of Troy declared by Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 2018 has been witnessing heavy promotion of the Canakkale region in several international destinations. Besides the availability of daily flights, highway connections are smooth and easy to access in three and a half hours. Several international press visits and tours operator visits are also on schedule. Troy Museum, set to open in August 2018, is going to attract thousands of tourists. Canakkale and Troy region, with its endless touristic opportunities, perfect nature and rich history, is the rising star of Turkey Tourism. The area covers Dardanelles strait, beautiful beaches, water sports, diving, sailing, wind and kite surfing activities, and its thousand springs.
Yasmin Amri Sued Chargé d’Affaires, Consulate of the Republic of Rwanda
This year, more and more travel agencies have prepared Eid packages for the residents of the UAE to discover Rwanda. Rwanda is a destination for travellers in search of a unique experience. Visit the Mountain Gorillas, walk on a canopy suspended at 50m high above the Nyungwe Rainforest, and witness the Big 5 at the Akagera National Park. The hospitality sector in Rwanda has laid special emphasis in growing the Halal offering. Last year, Rwanda received 1,020 GCC visitors. However, we expect a drastic growth due to the visa relaxation that started early 2018, where all visitors will be able to receive their visa upon arrival. We focus on increasing awareness around Rwanda as a ‘bucket list’ destination.
Ivonna Kezbere Director Spare Travel Latvia
The picturesque medieval Old Town in Riga offers travellers architectural gems, artisanal shopping and gourmet experiences that can all be accessed on foot. airBaltic, the national carrier of Lativa, offers direct flights from Abu Dhabi to Riga during the winter season (starting late October) with exceptional value. For this summer, we have launched attractive packages exclusively for the Middle East market that include Old Town highlights, chocolate factory visits with chocolate making experiences, and even stays in castles. We are looking to partner with the region’s travel trade by creating bespoke itineraries that can be promoted directly to their clientele, be their helicopter transfers and tours to numerous castles, or generic Latvia highlight tours. Groups, MiCE travel and sports groups for training camps will be the focus of our promotional activities.
Alejandro Bernabé Navarro, Vice President—Operations, AVANI Hotels and Resorts
Each AVANI is unique with its own characteristic that makes it an ideal hotel for the Middle East traveller. The flagship AVANI Riverside Bangkok Hotel is located on the beautiful Chaophraya, where all the rooms and suites feature uninterrupted panoramic view of the river with mesmerising sunrise or sunset. The newly opened and the first AVANI+ Luang Prabang is located in a UNESCO World Heritage Town with a private boutique hideaway that was formerly the French officer quarters. The hotel is also located at the heart of the city; and last but not least, AVANI Quy Nhon Resort & Spa is a private beachfront resort where each room or suite features coastal views and dedicated connecting rooms for extended family stays.
Kazuya Fukuhara, Director, Tourism and MiCE Office—Industry and Tourism Bureau, City of Kyoto
With Emirates introducing A380 in October to Kansai/Osaka, the gateway airport for Kyoto, the UAE market has become more important to Kyoto. You can find information on Halal and Muslim-friendly restaurants, prayer spaces and accommodation in designated websites. The number of UAE nationals who stayed at least one night in Kyoto in 2017 increased 18 per cent. A new experiential travel package specifically designed for Middle Eastern guests, ‘I’m Turning Japanese!’ includes a two-night stay at a four-star or five-star hotel with breakfast, city tour, authentic traditional kimono wearing experience and original noodle cooking class at Kyoto’s certified Halal Ramen restaurant.
Heli Mende Director—Global Sales Promotion, VisitFinland
From the beginning of this year, we have a dedicated representative in the UAE. Finland is a family-friendly destination with lots to offer in all seasons and all of its four main regions – Greater Helsinki, Lakeland, Coast and Islands and Lakeland region. As a source market, Middle East is still small for Finland but there has been a steady growth from UAE during the past years. In UAE, we see Finland’s strengths as family, adventure and active holiday destination as well as education travel, health travel and wellbeing travel destination. We are targeting families, adventurous travellers, travellers interested in educational travel and those seeking healthcare treatments in safe and highly functional environment.