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Dubai targets Indian leisure tourists

With ice skiing to a desert safari and scuba diving, Dubai wants to attract Indian tourists.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2006 19:15 IST

From just a shopping hub to a city that offers everything from ice skiing to a desert safari and scuba diving as well - Dubai wants Indian tourists to widen their horizons and hopes to receive 4,00,000 of them this year.

Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) is widening its canvas and hopes to attract 400,000 Indian leisure travellers this year to sample its varied fare.

"Of the 6.4 million leisure travellers to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India is among the top five source markets into Dubai," said Saleh Al Geziry, DTCM's deputy manager, overseas promotions, at a media briefing here Tuesday.

He is leading an 18-member delegation to India for a roadshow for the travel and hotel industry to promote Dubai as a preferred destination.

Apart from India, the other major source destinations to the UAE are Britain, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries, Russia and Germany.

"Over 35 percent of the estimated 357,000 Indian visitors to the UAE in 2005 stayed in four and five star hotels indicating that there is a large segment of upmarket Indians interested in enjoying a holiday in Dubai - attracted by our varied fare of sand and snow skiing in the third largest indoor ski dome in the world," said Geziry.

The 357,000 Indian visitors to Dubai last year excludes those Indians travelling to the UAE to have a holiday with family or friends or those seeking employment, said Carl Vaz, DTCM director for India.

Giving a profile of the Indians travelling to the UAE and Dubai in particular, Vaz said around 40 percent are estimated to be business travellers, while many go there for exhibitions and IT related activities.

To cope with increasing air traffic, Geziry said the Dubai International Airport was in the process of building a third terminal and shifting cargo carrier operations to a new airport to be constructed near the Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ).

"Apart from being one of the major spenders, Indians are also among the largest investors in properties in the UAE," said Geziry.

India's leading hotel chain, Taj Group, is currently in the process of setting up a second hotel in Dubai - Taj Exotica, a 250 room and 250 apartment property that is set to be operational by 2008 end.

During the multi-city road shows in Chennai, Bangalore and Mumbai as well as Delhi, the DTCM led delegation hopes to meet 1,500 participants from travel and tour industry and provide them with information about the latest hospitality facilities and new leisure pursuits.

Seeing its major tourism growth coming from second tier cities in India, DTCM had last month held promotions in Punjab.

More such promotions are planned to take advantage of the 145 direct flights per week from India to the UAE, the officials said.