Dubai targets Egyptian travellers


Dubai's participation at the MTF excited a wave of interest among Egyptians, the entrepot making its first appearance at the event.

Abdulla A Al Falasi, deputy manager for Overseas Promotion, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), met representatives of airlines and tour operators who renewed their acquaintance with the organisation.

Few destinations have seen growth in recent years as much as Dubai, so MTF organisers were happy to have Dubai as an exhibitor.

The Dubai government has lined up several high-profile events including the Gulf information technology exhibition (Gitex), the annual air show and the World Bank meeting for which it is building a plush conference centre that should be ready in the first quarter of 2003.

"We're focusing on Arab countries as we have good relations with them," said Al Falasi.

Dubai has been looking at Egypt as a source of tourist flow into the UAE, the two countries being mutually well served by airlines. Dubai hotels have been providing special rates for Egyptian travellers, said Al Falasi.

"Egyptians like shopping and Egyptian companies have offices in Dubai and do their conferences in Dubai," he said.

In Cairo, Al Falasi held discussions with two Egyptian companies and a Turkish firm. The Egyptian companies are interested in holding their conferences in Dubai while the Turkish firm, which had initially planned to have its conference in France is now seeking a Dubai venue.

Al Falasi said Egyptian companies had booked 100 rooms for Gitex, which will be held in mid-October. For Al Falasi, the MTF was an occasion to reassure tourism-related companies that Dubai was still an ideal location.

"We had a problem in the first two or three days after September 11," said Al Falasi, who estimated cancellations amounted to 15 per cent of bookings in Dubai hotels.

Americans accounted for about one per cent of those. Currently, he stressed, there were no cancellations and expressed confidence that those who stayed out would return in the winter.

"Dubai and the Gulf area are safe," assured Al Falasi, who emphasised that Dubai had received "safe destination" accolades from travel magazines and associations.

According to the official, September 11 prompted swift reaction from DTCM. The organisation put in calls to its overseas offices, directing them to contact travel agencies, tour operators and the media in their markets to assure them that travellers would be safe in the UAE.

The Dubai pavilion at the MTF included stands booked by two tour operators - Travco and Destination of the World - and two hotels - Marco Polo and Golden Sands. The Dubai Air Show had one to highlight its attractions.