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Tue 5 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Scandinavia oblivious to the GCC’s potential: SAS

The tourism boards of Scandinavia are failing to harness the potential of the GCC's outbound travel market, a senior manager at Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has claimed.

The tourism boards of Scandinavia are failing to harness the potential of the GCC's outbound travel market, a senior manager at Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has claimed.

"We are working with the tourism boards, but I think it is too early for them to come to this market - Europe, the US and China are their top priority," the carrier's general manager for the UAE Magnus Engstrom told ATN.

"We are trying to make them open their eyes to the region and explain the potential it has, but many of them don't even know where Dubai is, which is a little bit sad."

In a bid to kick start the promotion of Scandinavia's attributes in the UAE, Engstrom said he was talking to Norwegian travel agent giant Scantours, which recently opened an office in Dubai.

"We are looking to promote the golden triangle - Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo -and will try to establish some product so that people from here can visit all three places," he said.

"But in order to promote a destination it's not enough to have just the airline working at it. We need official representation here in order to promote the destination more widely."

SAS commenced its three times weekly Dubai-Copenhagen service on November 1 and has seen "positive development on the route" according to Engstrom.

Load factors hit the 70% mark in November and increased to 80% in December with "strong demand across all cabins", particularly business class said Engstrom.

Engstrom noted that 50-60% of passengers were ending their journey in Copenhagen, with others connecting to flights to other Scandinavian cities and the Baltic countries, with a few traveling on to the US.

"Copenhagen as a destination has interest, but it is not enough to run a route. This year we will promote Copenhagen as a gateway to Northern Europe," he added.

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