Rising UAE costs concerns Net Group chairman
ALI Zaid Abu Monassar, executive chairman, Net Group, finds that business was good last year, with a growth of 25 per cent.
“We have also seen an increase in new markets such as Greece and South American countries. Every year we have a new product and project, and the latest one is the opening of the new Net Tours Ras Al Khaimah as well as new desert resort in same emirates,” said Monassar.
“We also finished the Khyal Al Shara Camp in Abu Dhabi, the most traditional camp in the emirates, which became the only venue in the Abu Dhabi desert for the use of the government and for private events.”
Although the Net Group has a good relationship with its hotel suppliers it still faces problems with a shortage of rooms at some times of the year, but Monassar finds the situation is gradually getting better with the arrival of new hotels on a regular basis.
“The main problem today in the UAE is staff, I mean professional staff qualified to provide the same level of service expected from clients coming to the UAE, he said. “Many problems are caused today by the change in regulations and the increased costs of accommodation and the cost of living in the UAE,” he said.
This in turn created the problem of increasing the price of services, and many tour operators could not increase their prices as they had tied to contracts with their partners for the long term, but at the same time they could not ignore the rise in the cost of living in the UAE. What with fuel, other issues such as salik, he found that, “We are losing business to other countries who may have a similar product but cost less and have good staff.”
The Net Group launched their web reservation system at WTM, which Monassar felt gave more accessibility to their clients to book and confirm any services in the GCC countries where they are present including the UAE, Oman and Qatar. They receive many internet bookings for local services from local markets.
He was particularly concerned about the consequences if the government decided to revaluate the UAE dirham against the US dollar. “All our agreements and tariff are quoted in US$ and most of our partners have based their calculations and brochures on that tariff,” he said.
“Another problem we are facing is finding the right people as we are increasing branches and departments.”