The Middle Eastern tourism sector is targeting visitors from China through a number of travel incentives.
That’s according to the senior exhibition director of this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) which is taking place in Dubai from 24-27 April.
ATM Senior Exhibition Director, Simon Press said: “It’s crucial that tourist hubs throughout the Middle East maximise their reach into mega-markets such as China. Demand cycles, budget trends, tech-savvy hotels, food and beverage, sightseeing, culture and heritage centres, can easily be met in many key destinations across the region.
“A number of travel incentives introduced into the region over recent months include visas on arrival for Chinese nationals visiting Qatar and the UAE. The private sector is also employing more Cantonese and Mandarin speaking staff to help ease the language barrier and more Chinese businesses are operating their Middle East and Africa operations from the UAE.”
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He said the Dragon Mart retail centre, with almost 4,000 Chinese outlets, as an example of the synergy between the Chinese and UAE markets.
He added that initiatives such as the Qatar China 2016 Year of Culture have also helped to boost the profile of the Middle East, with arrivals into Doha from Asia and Oceania totalling 342,976 in the first half of last year.
According to figures released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China is the second largest global economy, worth $11.3 trillion, and its outbound tourism market was valued at $168 billion globally in 2016, with 59.3 million Chinese nationals travelling abroad in the first half of 2016 and 62 million in the second half, according to a report by Thomson Reuters, an increase of around 4% year-on-year.
In Dubai, 540,000 tourists arrived from China in 2016, up from 450,000 in 2015, which helped cement the country’s place as a top 10 source market for the emirate. Elsewhere, the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) is preparing to welcome as many as 200,000 Chinese visitors to the emirate by 2021.