Dubai targets Tier II markets in India

Interview with Bader Ali Habib, Head of Region, South Asia International Operations, DET
/ New Delhi
Dubai recently conducted a multi-city roadshow in India targetting the Tier II markets across the country. Bader Ali Habib, Head of Region, South Asia International Operations, DET tells India Outbound that the Tier II cities in India represent an increasingly important market for Dubai.
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What is the objective of this roadshow in India?

The objective of the roadshow is to introduce the travel trade fraternity in Kolkata, Bengaluru, Cochin and Chennai to new offerings in the city and to give them the opportunity to engage with a diverse range of stakeholders ranging from mid-segment to luxury hotel brands, attractions, destination management companies, airlines and cruise liners. The aim is also to take a more robust approach towards attracting tourism from regions that are relatively further away from Dubai compared to western and northern India. The trade in these regions are familiar with Dubai but they require constant updates and education and this roadshow really gives us the platform to do that.

Is there a significance to the timing of the roadshow?

Yes, the aim is to ensure we introduce new opportunities and ways in which Dubai can be positioned and promoted for Indian travellers ahead of the winter period. The immediate purpose is to drive visitation over the month of September and a wider objective is to continue taking the destination proposition to cities far and wide into southern and eastern parts of the country and to familiarise the trade in those regions with latest updates on the destination.

How important is Tier II in India as a source market for Dubai? What kind of numbers and segments of tourists do you get here?

Given the economic growth trajectory of Tier II cities in India and the growing purchasing power among consumers, we see great potential to further penetrate far. Given the accessibility that Dubai enjoys into smaller cities and the growing appetite for travel in India, we see an opportunity to further penetrate through a more targetted and personalised approach. Tier II audiences have a different travel pattern and behaviour and we continue to closely study them and tailor our efforts for them. Today, close to 35 pc of seat capacities out of India come from Tier II cities directly into Dubai and there is a growing number of travellers who drive or take domestic flight into nearby Tier I cities to then fly into Dubai as well.

How has Tier II grown as a market for Dubai over the years & what is the potential?

Post pandemic, there has been greater appetite for travel among Indians. A growing section of the market now looks at engaging in travel as means of experiences, bonding and opportunities to unwind from routine work. Data shared by our partners also shows a growing demand for multiple travel over the year from cities where typically visitors would not take more than one holiday break a year. I still believe there is much more potential to further penetrate Tier II, especially in the southern and eastern regions that are further away from Dubai but now finally have more flight options than earlier this year.

How has the response been so far to Tier II roadshows?

Kolkata was a big success that we concluded. We were expecting roughly about 150 agents, but we ended up hosting over 288 agents. This shows that Tier II markets had lots of appetite for Dubai, even though it is over four and half hours away. The demand from Kolkata is primarily leisure and in terms of price points, August and September are a bit more affordable as from October onwards we have a lot of events coming up, pushing the price higher. So, we are here in Kolkata with the message that for the next 30-60 days you have an opportunity to enjoy Dubai at less premium budgets. Bengaluru is a different market as it is a Tier I and it has been a very important market for us. It is a mixed market with leisure, MICE, GIT and FIT etc.

And we had last been to Bengaluru in February 2020 and a lot has happened since then and it was time to update our partners in Bengaluru. Kochi has a high awareness of Dubai, but not the right kind of awareness and we want to create that awareness. Lastly, there is Chennai, another very important market and we have good MICE and leisure movements as well as good capacity from there to Dubai. But we have to constantly remind them about Dubai.

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