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India is a ‘hit’ for the Middle East

Not just Dubai, but the entire Middle East is witnessing an increase in the number of visitors from India. To develop this source market, many tourism boards from the region are investing money and efforts to attract more numbers.

Hazel Jain

Abdulla Saleh Al Hammadi, Director, National Tourism Programme, UAE

India is one of the most promising markets for the UAE. According to UAE’s tourism department, the number of visitors from India increased from 2.3 million visitors in 2016 to approximately 2.6 million in 2017, indicating a growth rate of up to 12.8 per cent.  The UAE delegation looks forward to building relationships and further strengthening ties with the people, especially the tourism industry through our VisitUAE campaign.

Khalid M Alawar, Manager—India & Pakistan, International Operations, Dubai Tourism

Dubai’s top source markets like India and the UK retained their top positions this year as well. Once again, India brought in the highest number of international guests crossing the one million mark over a six-month period, up by 3 per cent year-on-year. In H1 2018, India again delivered the highest number of international guests. We ran the highly successful #BeMyGuest campaign with Shah Rukh Khan. Looking ahead on the second half of 2018 and additional areas of growth for the tourism sector, the recent move to implement a VAT refund for tourists will ensure the industry’s competitiveness.

Omar Bani Hamour, Marketing & Exhibitions Co-ordinator, Fujairah Tourism & Antiquities Authority, Government of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates

India is one of the biggest international markets in the world for not just the emirate but also the entire UAE. We want to increase the numbers of Indian arrivals further. We are still new to this market but the visits have showed that the numbers from India have been increasing. We will come to India every year to push our products. We also have a plan to open a representative office in India.

Lubaina Sheerazi, India Representative Ministry of Tourism, Oman

Oman is gaining popularity among mature and evolved Indian travellers for being an exotic and adventurous country. Over the years, we have witnessed many destination weddings in Oman mainly due to short-flying time, simplified visa process and easy availability of Indian food. To bring momentum to the tourism growth, new e-visa process and short-term tourist visa have been introduced at just 5 Omani Riyal (OMR) for a period of 10 days. Oman is also increasingly being looked at as a long-weekend getaway. Since 2014, Oman has witnessed over 31 per cent growth in Indian arrivals. In 2017 alone, Oman received 321,161 Indian visitors, showcasing growth of over 7 per cent in just one year.

Sunil Mathapati, Country Manager, Bahrain Tourism & Exhibition Authority

The first quarter of 2018 saw about 303,770 Indians visit Bahrain and by the end of this year, we expect to get an increase of at least 15 per cent and 25 per cent from India. The Indian market is one of the prime markets for us. It’s been just one year of representation and we have already seen a spike in awareness of Bahrain in the Indian market, specially for MiCE and wedding sectors. We have been proactively doing various marketing activities to achieve the target. Our focus is on attracting more tourists from non-traditional markets especially India, which stands second as the source market after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Hassan Madah, Director—India & Philippines, Israel Ministry of Tourism

Israel has recorded an 81 per cent growth from January to July 2018 as compared to the same period in 2015. India has been one of the best performing countries in Asia and currently the second-highest Asian source country for us. The visa fee for Indian citizens has been reduced to `1,100 from `1,700 with relaxation in documentation for tourists. Fast track visa processing for Israel was also incorporated earlier this year. With around 44,000 Indian arrivals until July 2018, we are positive to close this year with 1 lakh travellers from India.

Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer, Qatar Tourism Authority

Notable increases in arrivals in the first half of 2018 compared to the first half of 2017 came from India which was 18 per cent, among other countries. Openness and ease of access are crucial elements of the visitor experience. We have committed to providing a seamless experience to visitors even as they are planning for their journey. We will therefore continue to work with our partners on further facilitating entry to Qatar through additional streamlining of the immigration process at Qatar’s ports of entry, as well as ensuring that all visitor visas and visa procedures are electronic.

Majed Ishaq, Marketing Department, Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities, State of Palestine

The Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities of the State of Palestine made its debut in the India market last year at a tourism fair. The numbers from India are increasing very rapidly and this has prompted us to visit India and talk to the trade here. In 2017, India ranked number four for Palestine in terms of tourist arrivals among the international markets and number four in terms of overnights in hotels in Palestine. In 2016, we had more than 70,000 Indians visiting us with about 65,000 overnights.

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