Emirates launches drive to attract more visitors

First class all the way on Emirates.

UAE airline Emirates has launched a hard-hitting public relations and marketing campaign to attract more visitors to Dubai and demonstrate that the UAE is one of the world's safest and most welcoming countries.

Some 300 travel agents, representing more than 10,000 retail outlets, are flying Emirates to Dubai on familiarisation visits arranged in partnership with the Le Meridien group of hotels.

Parties of journalists on fact-finding trips are coming too, invited by Emirates and its partners to "fly and try Dubai" as part of the efforts to raise the emirate's profile.

"We are doing everything in our power to build up confidence at a time when some intending travellers feel uncertain whether or not they should come here," said Emirates chairman Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

"We want to demonstrate to them that this is one of the world's most peaceful countries, welcoming people of all cultures, nationalities and religions.

"Our facilities are excellent. Our streets are safe. Our winters are glorious. Our hotels, restaurants and shops are renowned the world over. We have won scores of tourism accolades. We enjoy extremely strong repeat business."

The agents from Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Britain and Australia, are from some of travel's best-known firms such as Kuoni, Eurolloyd, Best Travel and Oltremare.

They will tour the UAE and sample Dubai's hotels, restaurants, facilities and leisure attractions in the expert hands of Arabian Adventures, the airline's destination management company.

Emirates has also invited more than 70 journalists and TV crews to high-profile events such as the powerboat racing championships.

An Indian film crew sponsored by Emirates is making a documentary on the county as a major shopping and tourist destination, with sequences in the city and at Emirates' Al Maha Desert Resort.

Six journalists from top UK Midlands newspapers came to prepare business and travel articles, and six Australian journalists, including a crew from a major TV channel, fly in soon on a similar visit.

To build on coverage generated by these trips. Emirates has launched a series of special travel offers, such as a free night with breakfast at the landmark Burj Al Arab, one of the world's best-known hotels for First Class passengers flying from 14 cities to 30 destinations via Dubai.

Business Class travellers enjoy a night's stay free at the Jumeirah Beach or Emirates Towers hotel in a similar offer. Like the First Class deal, it includes free airport transfers, accommodation -related taxes and service charges.

Also featuring in the initiative to tempt people into the air are free or bargain-price nights at Dubai's stylish Le Meridien Dubai and Hilton hotels, and double miles for members of Skywards, Emirates' frequent flyer programme.

Customers flying on Emirates routes entirely within the Middle East are offered special three-night packages at hotels ranging from self-catering to five-star, at rates as little as $11 a night .