Tourists coming back: Agency
The year ahead looks very encouraging with business picking up after the sharp downturn sparked by terror attacks in the US in September last year, says a leading UAE tour operator.Net Tours and Travel said Dubai, the commercial and tourism hub for the UAE, had been badly hit immediately after the September 11 events with travel to the Middle East coming to a virtual standstill. But quick action by government authorities and a spate of promotions by hotels in the emirates had received a good response during the Christmas and New Year holiday periods. The agency said there were signs of improvements for the coming season with European tourists seeming more confident to travel once again. "Groups/individuals have started making reservations once again. Local business seems to have normalised with reservations showing an upturn from the corporate segment," said a Net Tours spokesman. He said the company had been forced to take several temporary measures including cutting back on overheads as materialisation of business slumped to just 35 per cent of what the company had expected during the period. The Net Tours spokesman said the agency did not see the problems having a big impact on the forthcoming Dubai Shopping Festival which attracts a large number of visitors from neighbouring GCC countries. Established in 1989, Net Tours & Travel is today a major destination management company in the UAE and operates under the umbrella of Net Group of companies. Net Tours offers a range of services to travellers including meet and assist at the Dubai airport, cultural and historical packages in the UAE, study trips, combination packages, cruises, desert trips, safaris, etc. Other companies in the group include Incentive Productions, which caters exclusively to the incentives market; Net Cruises, catering exclusively to the cruise industry in the Middle East; Net Conferences & Conventions targeting the conference and convention market; and Net Transport providing various transport facilities and infrastructure. Net Tours has joined a Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing initiative involving Emirates Airline and tour operators to offer its customers a new program titled "A taste of Dubai". With its recent signing as the GSA for Belavia Airways, Net Tours is also planning attractive packages for the shopping festival in conjunction with overseas agents.