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Fri 15 May 2015 01:22 AM

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Dubai's tourism chief sees Russian visitors returning

Russian tourists slumped by more than 23% in 2014 due to the weakness of the rouble

Dubai's tourism chief sees Russian visitors returning
Dubais tourism chief Helal Saeed Almarri.

Dubai's tourism chief Helal Saeed Almarri believes that the number of Russian visitors to Dubai will level out by the third quarter of this year following a recent slump caused by the weakness of the rouble.

The Dubai Annual Visitor Report, released last week, revealed that Russian visitor numbers to Dubai decreased by 23.5 percent in 2014 when compared to 2013 figures.

“I would expect 2015 to be more of a stabilisation year with Russia, so I think by the third quarter we will have seen most of the readjustment from that market," said the director-general of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

“We already saw it last year in the second half, so in the second half of this year we wouldn’t expect it to fall much further,” said AlMarri in comments published by Hotelier Middle East.

The report revealed that the decrease in Russian tourists in 2014 was “negated by the majority of Dubai’s top ten source markets, which increased by around 8 percent”.

This included double-digit growth in some inbound emerging markets, including China Nigeria and Brazil.

“Russia and CIS together was in the range of 2–3 percent [of inbound tourism numbers] so for example if that reduced by half you’d lose 1 percent so that 1 percent is easily gained by the UK, German or another market,” AlMarri added.

“With these types of things, we don’t see them as permanent, we see them as short-to-medium-term. We don’t shy away from any market, we continue to push through.”

With China a key emerging inbound market, AlMarri confirmed that a number of efforts are being made by DTCM to drive more Chinese tourism into the emirate.

“In China we have more offices than any other country and more people working there from any other country. We have one of the highest spends worldwide in terms of marketing dollars, we have dedicated Chinese websites and dedicated Chinese content.

“We invest in a lot of these people bring tour guides from China and in training these tour guides. We work with the industry to ensure there are Chinese speaking guests. It’s a market that’s going to continue to grow in importance and we take it very seriously,” he said.

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