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Samir Hamadeh Samir Hamadeh

Q & A With Samir Hamadeh, General Manager, Alpha Destination Management

WITH TOURISM BEING A CENTRAL PILLAR OF DUBAI’S ECONOMIC GROWTH, THE EMIRATE IS EXPECTED TO FURTHER LEVERAGE THE SECTOR BY BROADENING ITS OFFERING.

SAMIR HAMADEH, GENERAL MANAGER, ALPHA DESTINATION MANAGEMENT, REVEALS HOW THE COMPANY’S NEW MARKETING APPROACH SHOWCASES DUBAI TO A WIDER AUDIENCE.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How successful has the first half of the year been (H1) and what are the demographics of travellers who visited Dubai?

SAMIR HAMADEH: H1 has been positive due to the fact that we have expanded our client portfolio and have been successful in signing some significant new contracts. We have done our best to be creative by focusing on attractions and experiences to get more customers to the destination. We also had a positive impact on business from a strong EUR exchange rate but the softening of UK pound has not helped traffic into the destination.

Being one of the leading destination management companies, Alpha Destination Management, has been catering to a wide mix of visitors in terms of demographics including international travellers looking for authentic, curated experiences with value-added packages. Our aim is to meet the expectations of both regional and international travellers.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing identified increasing the number of repeat visits as one of three key objectives in its Tourism Vision 2020. What is being done across the emirate to achieve this?

SAMIR HAMADEH: Dubai continues to impress both residents and visitors with a tourism product that never ceases to evolve. The emirate is becoming a major attractions’ hub and is quickly maturing as a destination that one can return to over and over again – and still have an experience that is just as amazing, just as surprising, just as fulfilling as the first time.

It is a place where you can continue to experience that joy of discovery no matter how many times you have been here or how many things you have seen. Being in Dubai is always fun.

The recent addition of 17 new leisure attractions, strong year-round calendar of events and entertainment, world-class infrastructure, superb global connectivity, expansion of low-cost carriers and development of mid-market hotels, further reinforces its position on the world map and are all steps in the direction to grow both new and repeat visitors.

The more the destination creates attractions and tailors its products to cater to diverse tourists, the better conversion it can expect. There is need to build on experiential travel.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Why should travellers return for another trip in Dubai?

SAMIR HAMADEH: There are multiple reasons for people to visit Dubai, be it for leisure, business or family visits. Dubai is among the top four most visited cities in the world and the best performer in the MENA region. Connectivity and safety are no doubt the biggest strengths of Dubai and will continue to be the key drivers for tourism.

Over one third of the world’s population lives within a four-hour flight from Dubai and two thirds are within an eight-hour flight. Dubai’s location allows Emirates to serve 90 percent of the world.

Dubai’s tourism fundamentals are extremely strong and its vision is incomparable. The solid foundation that the government has put in place through broadening portfolio of attractions and facilities, diversification of source markets, collaboration between various business sectors will all help to accelerate the pace of Dubai’s growth into the future.

Also, the ability of Dubai’s tourism sector to adapt and respond with agility to any unforeseen macro-economic upheaval is a key factor behind its success. This reinforces Dubai’s positioning as a tourism and business hub.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What is your company doing to support Dubai Tourism’s objective of attracting repeat visitors? How, if at all, have you collaborated with Dubai Tourism?

SAMIR HAMADEH: We are committed to offer added value as well as invest further into technology to enhance customer experience in the destination. In order to support Dubai’s goal to attract 20 million visitors annually by 2020 and maintain a stable momentum of growth in terms of repeat visitors, there is need for new packages and offers with added-value to entice transit passengers to stay for least one night rather than simply pass by.

We are definitely working very hard on this in close collaboration with Dubai Tourism. We believe, all players in the industry need to co-ordinate together to promote the emirate, be it tourism authorities, airlines, DMCs, hotels or others.

The growth that Dubai is targeting in terms of tourism can only be achieved by drawing a wider range of visitors and mass tourism markets. We are increasingly witnessing a shift in key source markets to lower spending regions due to growth in low-cost carriers, and expanding middle class, and this necessitates the development of more value-added offerings.