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Issam Kazim Issam Kazim

Q & A with Issam Kazim, CEO, DCTCM

IN JUST FIVE YEAR, PASSENGER NUMBERS AT DUBAI INTERNATIONAL HAVE GROWN FROM 47.26 MILLION IN 2010 TO OVER 78 MILLION IN 2015 AND ACCORDING

TO ISSAM KAZIM, CEO, DUBAI CORPORATION FOR TOURISM AND COMMERCE MARKETING (DCTCM), THE DESTINATION IS KEEN ON TURNING THESE FLYERS INTO LOYAL VISITORS.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How can DCTCM help turn those using Dubai International as a transit hub into overnight visitors?

ISSAM KAZIM: In 2015, Dubai welcomed 14.2 million international overnight visitors, a year-on-year increase of 7.5 percent, taking us one step closer to realising our Tourism Vision for 2020, which aims to welcome 20 million visitors per year by 2020.

And with a record 78 million passengers travelling through Dubai International during the same period, and with a third of the world’s population living within a four-hour flight away and two thirds within an eight-hour flight away, it is clear that there is great potential to grow visitation further.

To that end, we have created a number of suggested itineraries suited to stays ranging from 24 hours to weekend getaways and longer, promoting these through our digital channels and publications.

In addition, in markets across Australasia and the Americas where we offer convenient direct flight access, we work closely with airline partners, the travel trade and the hotel sector to create compelling transit programmes.

Yet, while DCTCM is committed to encouraging more transit passengers to exit the airport and experience the city, Dubai is not merely a stopover destination, but rather a compelling destination in its own right, with an ever-evolving offering of hotels, attractions, experiences, events and business opportunities.

By highlighting the breadth and variety on offer, and by giving people more reasons to visit and more reasons to stay longer, we can attract new visitors, increase the number of repeat visitors, and encourage visitors to extend their stay in Dubai.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Does DCTCM collaborate with other industry stakeholders to encourage these passengers to step out of the airport?

ISSAM KAZIM: Together with our partners, Emirates and flydubai, which are regularly launching new routes and adding capacity to existing ones, we are synergising our marketing and promotional efforts, and leveraging each other’s investments to yield optimal returns for Dubai.

We also work closely with trade partners in markets such as Australasia and the Americas to attract the higher number of stopover travellers.

For example, in Australia, in 2015, we worked with Flight Centre and the Sunrise morning TV show to put together the Sunrise – 5 Countries in 5 Days campaign.

This showcased Dubai as the first stop on a round-the-world trip, resulting in an increase in bookings to the emirate.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Over the years, visa requirements for citizens of several countries have been relaxed. How has this helped attract more visitors to Dubai?

ISSAM KAZIM: The improvement of accessibility by easing visa restrictions is an ongoing focus for us, and we work closely with other government departments at federal level to push this agenda.

Along with GCC citizens, who do not require a visa to enter the UAE, citizens from a total of 46 countries – including all European Union member states – can now obtain a visa on arrival in Dubai, receiving a 30-day visit visa free of charge.

This has made visiting Dubai simple, fast and cost effective, reflected in an increase in the number of visitors from these markets.

In addition, the multi-entry UAE visit visa for cruise visitors allows cruisers to enter all UAE ports by using a single visa.

This has had a big impact on our key source markets such as India, China, Russia, CIS, South Africa and Brazil.

However, visa policies are only one aspect of a much wider approach to attracting more visitors to Dubai, with DCTCM also leveraging increasing airlift largely driven by new route launches by Dubai’s two homegrown airlines, Emirates and flydubai, as well as the emirate’s broad destination appeal that offers something for all travel segments.

Having rolled out our global brand campaign in the last quarter of 2015, Dubai continues to work on building brand awareness in new markets and addressing perception gaps in existing markets where there is limited market share capture, to better penetrate and attract the fast growing, mass affluent segments as future leisure and business visitors.