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Dubai tourism companies aims for Chinese tourists

Reporter: Nawied Jabarkhyl 丨 CCTV.com

12-07-2016 16:21 BJT

Dubai wants to attract more Chinese cruise tourists. The city’s expecting to welcome more ships and visitors than ever before this year, but there are concerns about the long term growth of the industry.

It’s cruise season once again in Dubai and from this October until July next year, the city’s expecting 600,000 passengers to disembark on its shores. That’s a 7% increase on 2015.

With cruise visitor numbers rising steadily in recent years, a major focus for officials here is on emerging markets like India and China.

“Two years in a row now we’ve done a road show in China, so we get really good numbers of Chinese. Now, since they are travelling to Europe or to the [United] States to take cruise lines, why not come to Dubai using a cruise line? The same brand, the same quality.” said Jamal Humaid Al Falast,director of Dubai Cruise Tourism.

According to government figures, in the first 9 months of 2016, almost 385,000 Chinese tourists visited Dubai – a 13% rise year on year. It’s now the 7th largest source market, and in September, Chinese nationals were granted visas on arrival in the UAE. The U.N. World Tourism Organization also says they’re the world’s biggest spenders when on holiday.

“Chinese tourists, really they spend a lot shopping in other markets and they see Dubai as something of a good brand, to buy or to find the good quality or good brands here in Dubai.”said Jamal Humaid Al Falast.

Despite Dubai’s efforts in promoting itself as a winter destination, experts say the very nature of cruises – with passengers hopping on and off at multiple locations – means its success may depend on others.

“You can’t make a cruise out of one port, a cruise has to have like multiple destinations. A cruise is always built around seven days, ten days, eight days. Dubai as a hub is doing extremely great but it has to be supported with other ports around. So, when more ports are emerging and coming up as becoming a cruise destination, it’s only going to strengthen the cruise market in the Middle East.”said Lakshmi Durai,CEO of Travel Matrix.

The Gulf region certainly has a long way to go before it rivals the likes of the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, but officials here in Dubai see cruises as part of a wider tourism strategy, that’s designed to diversify the economy away from oil. That’s why it’s investing heavily in getting international visitors to come here – whether that’s by air, land or sea.

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