As Russia became the second-largest source market for tourists to the emirate, Dubai welcomed 1.47 million overnight visitors in January. With a 63 percent increase from 2022, 115,000 Russian tourists visited the emirate of Dubai. India had the most visitors from other countries (186,000), and Saudi Arabia was the third-largest source market with 98,000 travellers. Earlier, Skift had written about how Dubai had turned out to be a safe haven for Russians fleeing the country as a result of the sanctions. In the year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, air travel between Moscow and Dubai increased by an astounding 228 percent, according to the travel analytics firm Forward Keys. Even though Dubai’s 1.47 million overnight visitors in January were less than the 1.6 million in 2019, they were still 50% more than the 980,000 visitors in January 2022. The Figures indicate a huge growth in Dubai tourism.
The Global Business Travel Association predicts that by 2024, business travel spending in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) will reach pre-pandemic levels (GBTA). In its most recent Business Travel Index Outlook annual forecast and outlook (2022), the association noted that the region’s business travel is recovering more quickly than any other region, having reached 86 percent of its 2019 levels during 2022, outpacing the recovery in the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe. The forecast states that pre-pandemic business travel expenditures totalled $1.4 trillion, or $633 billion, in 2022, with the Middle East and Africa region accounting for $23 billion, or roughly 2.5% of the sector’s total expenditures.
Egypt’s tourism minister, Ahmed Issa, stated that the nation seeks to increase tourism by expanding flight capacity and increasing room capacity, with the country anticipating record tourist numbers this year and aiming to draw 30 million visitors by 2028. Issa claimed in a speech at ITB Berlin that the nation had used digitalisation to improve and more effectively regulate health and safety standards and to guarantee the private sector has fair access to the market. Issa stated, “We want to make it simple for the private sector to realise its potential. The minister of tourism also announced that measures would be taken to make it easier for private investors to increase the number of rooms. Additionally, the range of travel products for lone travellers would be increased.
Located in the Red Sea off the northwest coast of Saudi Arabia, Sindalah is a luxury island destination. Marriott International recently announced that it had signed an agreement with Neom to open three properties there. The multi-deal agreement includes two Luxury Collection properties in addition to the first Autograph Collection Hotel property in Saudi Arabia. Jerome Briet, chief development officer for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at Marriott International, said, “We continue to see the growth opportunities for our brand portfolio within the destination and Saudi Arabia overall. Sindalah, the first place in Neom to begin receiving visitors, is anticipated to begin doing so in early 2024. The three projects are anticipated to be the island’s first hotels to open.
According to online travel marketplace Wego, which also reveals the most popular Ramadan booking trends, airline fares from the United Arab Emirates are anticipated to rise in comparison to the same time last year. “Cheap flights may be harder to find as the prices for flights to India and the UK have already increased by 13 to 32 percent,” Wego said, citing its data. The fact that Ramadan falls during a school break this year may be to blame for the sudden increase in demand for travel. As we get closer to the Eid break, Wego predicted that airfares would rise even more. According to Wego, hotel rooms in Dubai have seen a slight price increase and decreased availability compared to last year due to a busy event calendar and the approaching Ramadan season. This is anticipated to continue as reservations for Ramadan, Easter, and Eid have shown a positive trend. In Dubai, the average hotel price last month was $220, and hotel occupancy was 80.5 percent, which is about 7 percent more than it was in the same month in 2022. Saudi Arabia has announced a significant change to the procedure for applying for visas for citizens of Gulf nations.
According to the recent amendment, Gulf citizens, regardless of their line of work, are qualified to apply for a tourist visa to the kingdom. Previously, the kingdom would only issue e-visas to Gulf residents whose jobs were on its approved list. In accordance with the new regulation, citizens of Gulf nations may enter the kingdom with an electronic tourist visa obtained by submitting an application through the Visit Saudi website, so long as their residency permit and passport both have a minimum remaining validity of three months.
Additionally, domestic workers who are arriving with their sponsors and accompanying first-degree relatives of the resident are covered by this. A new free transit visa that allows stopover travellers to stay in the nation for up to four days was introduced by the kingdom in January. The Saudi Tourism Authority introduced Nusuk, an integrated digital platform, last year to provide pilgrims and tourists with a simple trip-planning tool for trips to Makkah, Madinah, and other destinations. The first biometric and digital technology solution in the industry, Jumeirah Mobile Check-In, was unveiled by the Jumeirah Group in collaboration with the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism. According to a statement from Jumeirah, the solution enables visitors to complete all check-in requirements before arriving via their mobile phone, cutting the check-in process by up to 10 minutes. According to a press release, the contactless check-in solution combines the ecosystem of Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts with security features that have been approved by the government. Jumeirah Mobile Check-In offers our guests a secure, quick, and easy check-in process, as well as streamlining subsequent reservations and facilitates payment processes, according to Thomas B. Meier, chief operating officer of Jumeirah Group.
The management contract for Bloom Arjan by Rotana, which is located on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, was signed, according to a statement from the hotel management company Rotana. The Azure Rotana Resort & Spa in Oran will mark Rotana’s entry into the Algerian market when it opens the following quarter. Six new Rotana hotels will open in Egypt by the end of the year, with properties planned for New Cairo and the well-liked North Coast in 2024. The Luxor Rotana will open by the end of the year. Additionally, Rotana has just finalised a preliminary agreement for a five-star resort in Benin, a country in West Africa.
At ITB Berlin, Rotana unveiled its expansive expansion plans for the MENAT (Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Turkey) region as well as its newest brand, Edge by Rotana. With a goal of running about 30 Edge by Rotana properties in the area by 2027, Rotana recently announced the opening of two new Edge by Rotana-managed hotels in the United Arab Emirates: Arabian Park and Damac Hills 2 in Dubai. A contract for an Edge by Rotana hotel in Istanbul also belongs to the group.
Saudi Arabia has announced the launch of Riyadh Air, its brand-new national airline, which is owned entirely by the Public Investment Fund, the country’s sovereign wealth fund. The Public Investment Fund stated in a release that the new national carrier will take advantage of Saudi Arabia’s strategic geographic location between the three continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe, allowing Riyadh to become a gateway to the world and a global destination for transportation, trade, and tourism. Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of PIF, will serve as chairman of Riyadh Air, and Tony Douglas, a former CEO of Etihad Airways, the flag carrier of Abu Dhabi, has been named CEO. The airline, which bases its operations in Riyadh, is anticipated to boost non-oil GDP growth by $20 billion and generate more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs. With the intention of empowering and revolutionising business travel experiences for customers in the United Arab Emirates and the region, Seed Group has welcomed Italian corporate travel agency BizAway as its newest strategic partner. With advice on how to reach the right audience, get in touch with influential decision-makers in both the public and private sectors, and contribute to making business travel simpler and more seamless, Seed Group will support the growth and expansion of BizAway.
According to Hisham Al Gurg, CEO of Seed Group, BizAway’s expertise in the area will alleviate many of the problems associated with business travel. “The solutions offered by BizAway are perfectly suited to assist regional businesses and the UAE’s digitalisation objective. Given that the value of business travel expenditure in the Gulf region has been estimated at over $30 billion, they have an advantage and the capacity to upend the business travel sector in the UAE and the wider Gulf,” “Al Gugr declared. Ennismore, a lifestyle hospitality company, and Olayan Financing Company have signed a contract to open Mondrian Riyadh Al Malga, the first Mondrian hotel development in Saudi Arabia. The Mondrian Riyadh, which is scheduled to debut in 2026, will be Ennismore’s first hotel in the city. The property will be developed as a part of the Al Malga Urban Village mixed-use community. A neighbourhood in northern Riyadh called Al Malga is close to Mukaab’s entrance, a recently announced 400-meter-tall cube-shaped skyscraper that is a part of the capital’s Murabba downtown plan. The project will feature a nearly full-height atrium space with a spiralling tower and is marketed as a tourist and cultural destination with entertainment, dining, and retail options. Mondrian has 17 hotels and branded residences planned as part of its global expansion, including upcoming openings in Bordeaux, Ibiza, Cannes, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Gold Coast, Australia, and Abu Dhabi. This is in addition to its current portfolio of seven open hotels, which also includes properties in Mexico City, London, Los Angeles, and Doha.
The men’s national teams of the United States, Germany, and Greece will play three games in Abu Dhabi, according to a deal that the Department of Culture and Tourism of Abu Dhabi and USA Basketball have announced. The USA Basketball Showcase Abu Dhabi is the organisation’s first event featuring the men’s national team in the United Arab Emirates. The men’s national team of USA Basketball will play in the UAE for the first time, according to Jim Tooley, CEO of USA Basketball. “The summer in Abu Dhabi is going to be one to remember. We are excited to welcome athletes and supporters from the US, Germany, and Greece to support their national teams and experience a variety of inspiring, exciting, and rejuvenating experiences in Abu Dhabi “the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi’s Saleh Al Geziry, director general of tourism. Successful implementation of the Amadeus Altéa Passenger Service System by Etihad Airways (PSS). With the Amadeus Altéa travel technology suite, all Etihad Airways flights between Abu Dhabi and its global network of airports are now managed, providing a quicker and easier check-in and boarding process. According to Etihad CEO Antonoaldo Neves, the switch to Amadeus was the company’s biggest IT project in the previous ten years. More than 100 IT processes were transferred, and more than 6,000 employees received training on how to use the new platform. “Amadeus gives us the resources we need to keep enhancing the guest experience and enhancing our operations going forward,” said Neves. According to a release from the airline, the move to Amadeus Altéa would usher in a new era of guest experiences by giving customers a more individualised experience and more flexibility and control over how they book and manage their flights.
A memorandum of understanding between Marriott Bonvoy and the vacation rental company bnbme based in the United Arab Emirates allows Marriott Bonvoy members to access homes and villas managed by bnbme holiday homes in the UAE and India. Additionally, guests will accrue Bonvoy points and be able to make purchases using those points. “The partnership is a testament to our commitment to constantly strive to bring new offerings to the discerning visitors and holiday seekers,” said Vinayak Mahtani, CEO of bnbme holiday homes.
People from different corners of the world are trying to bring developments using Dubai tourism as a model.