UAE: Influx of Travellers Deterred by Rising Costs

Khaleej Times

DUBAI, Oct 13: As Dubai residents pack their suitcases for an Eid holiday in another emirate or further afield, hotel and tourism operators report that the usual influx to Dubai of travellers from the rest of the UAE and GCC for Eid has been deterred by rising costs, construction and traffic.

While hotel occupancy rates remain high, thanks to travellers from Europe and other locations, bookings from tourists from other emirates and GCC countries have generally been low.

Some hotels maintained that the arrival of Eid still heralded considerable traffic to Dubai from Abu Dhabi and GCC countries. However, Hawthorne Hotel sales and marketing director Subodh Mathur said this traffic was less compared to the Eid days in previous years.

‘We’re almost fully booked,’ Mathur said.

‘But it’s lots of overseas groups - Europeans and Australians are coming. We do have GCC families but not like in the previous years.’

Mathur maintained that Dubai’s rising costs, including the Salik fee and construction, were discouraging Eid tourists and others from travelling to Dubai.

‘We’re getting lots of concern from GCC clients, even on business trips,’ he said.  Al Rais Travel holidays manager Munir Sherwani said Dubai had lost tourism from repeat visitors, particularly from other emirates.  ‘At the moment, with the construction going on, it stops people from coming here,’ Sherwani said.

‘The GCC citizens who come here do not like being stuck in traffic jams.’

However, he said the overall tourism flow was not affected as travellers still wanted ‘a change and the entertainment’, in spite of the traffic and construction, and the numbers were made up by new visitors, particularly from India and Pakistan, drawn by the Dubai Government’s strong marketing campaign.

Lama Desert Tours and Cruises managing partner Kulwant Singh was more positive and said Eid saw a ‘give and take’ situation where Dubai residents often chose other emirates as their Eid destinations and Dubai is popular with residents from Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Fujairah.

‘In the last two days we’ve seen an increase in bookings for our desert safari, mainly from Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah,’ Singh said.  ‘The cruises are full, the safaris are full. We’ve had bookings for Ski Dubai, Wild Wadi and many restaurants.’  Singh said Abu Dhabi residents were most keen to travel to Dubai during Eid and many chose the emirate for its five star hotels and fine dining.

‘There will definitely be an increase in traffic and you’ll see lots of cars from Abu Dhabi on the roads,’ Singh added.  Coral Deira Dubai marketing and sales head Wael El Behi noted that their group of hotels was not expecting an occupancy rate drop during Eid and had enjoyed high occupancy through the year.

El Behi said that as Dubai grew some residents were opting for other destinations such as Fujairah during Eid, but the city was still popular for a short getaway.

He attributed any increase in tourists from European and other destinations during Eid Al Fitr to events such as Cityscape and the beginning of the high season.

‘There are lots of Europeans and people of other nationalities, but for Eid specifically, it’s still mainly GCC and UAE residents,’ El Behi said.


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Title: UAE: Influx of Travellers Deterred by Rising Costs

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