DTCM woos British, Irish operators

The number of British and Irish tour operators in Dubai has increased over the last nine months.

The number of British and Irish tour operators in Dubai has increased over the last nine months from 100 at the end of 2001, to a current total of 110. Despite current market conditions, the Government of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), has set an even more ambitious target for 2003 - a total of 130 tour operators.

New tour operators featuring Dubai for the first time in 2002 are a mixture of general and specialist operators such as Virgin Holidays, Indigo Holidays, Asian Journeys, Creative Tours, Cultural Tours, Hidden Retreats, Mercury Direct, If You Golf, The Golf Holiday Company, and Wildwatch.

In a recent survey of tour operators which feature Dubai, many stated that the destination is selling very well. For example ITC Classics has reported a 25 per cent rise in business over the last six months, and Travelscene reported positive bookings since Dubai was introduced to its 'Cities' programme.

Operators such as Arabian Odyssey and Tropical Locations have added new properties and tours to their programmes.

Bales Worldwide has included the Ritz Carlton and Burj al Arab in its programme for next year, and is expecting a related increase in revenue by around 33 per cent for 2003.

Indigo Holidays stated that Dubai is now firmly established as one of its key destinations.

Gold Medal Travel, reporting strong results, has significantly expanded its stand-alone Dubai brochure, and Kuoni is hoping to see its exclusive Dubai programme go from strength to strength.

Travelbag recently launched its dedicated 'Dubai & Emirates' brochure for tailor-made holidays. Specialist operators have been reporting strong levels of interest in the destination. Wildwatch Tours, is launching its first bird watching itinerary in April 2003.

Longshot Golf Holidays is anticipating that bookings to Dubai for next season will do well due to the quality of the range of challenging golf courses.

Though many tour operators suffered a slump in bookings at the end of 2001, immediate and increased activities from the DTCM and the private sector led to a rise in bookings shortly afterwards.