Soraya Al-Olama (L) from Dubai Tourism with Natia Kvachadze from the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism.
Shree Kumar (L) from Jetset Marketing with Yannick Jullienne from Arabian Adventures.
Tanya Concessao (L), Etihad Airways, with Firdosh Bulsara, Victours.
The hosts and attendees.
Joined by partners Etihad Airways, Jumeirah Hotels and Arabian Adventures, representatives from Dubai Tourism and the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism teamed up to host a group of travel agents and media at a dinner in Toronto last week, the last stop on the duo’s first-ever joint Canadian roadshow.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for us because we are doing this roadshow for the very first time in Canada, and also the very first time with Dubai Tourism Board,” said Natia Kvachadze, speaking on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism. .
Also present at the event, UAE Consul General in Toronto Sultan Ali Al Harbi spoke about the impact tourism is having on the region: “Our travel and tourism segment in the UAE has contributed about US$43 billion, which is 12% of our GDP – a key indicator in the size and the capacity of this industry and how significant it is. We witnessed 20 million visitors to the UAE last year alone, and this figure is expected to grow even further as more travellers are expected between now and Expo 2020 that will be hosted in Dubai.”
Here are the latest tourism developments in the UAE shared at the event:
Made up of three distinct areas, Abu Dhabi itself is the cosmopolitan downtown of the city, and boasts a number of cultural draws. This includes the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the UAE’s largest, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and coming soon, a Guggenheim museum designed by none other than Frank Gehry. On the entertainment side of things, the city is home to Yas Island, which features a waterpark and hosts the Etihad Formula 1 Grand Prix, and new as of last month, a Warner Bros. theme park.
Host of Expo 2020 – where the theme will focus on innovation and forward-thinking – Dubai Tourism shone the spotlight on the Hyperloop being developed there. With a scheduled completion of two to five years, this new form of transit will connect Dubai and Abu Dhabi in under 12 minutes. Highlighting the fact that Dubai is the fourth most-visited city in the world, the number one destination for spend, and one of the top 10 cities for hotel supply, the city is now working hard to promote itself as more than a stopover hub. Dubai’s new attractions include Bollywood and Legoland theme parks, the first ever Hunger Games ride, and an upcoming Six Flags park, scheduled to open in the next few years.
Tanya Concessao, account manager Canada for Etihad, says the carrier offers 200+ flights per day and carries approximately 17 million guests each year. She highlighted a variety of items in her overview of developments at the airline. Among them, the new Midfield Airport in Abu Dhabi that is currently under construction and due to open in 2019; The Residence, a three-room suite on the airline’s A380; Etihad’s Flying Nanny program, which is available out of YYZ and a gift to parents travelling with small children; complimentary transfers between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and the Abu Dhabi stopover program; and the Etihad SuperSeller incentive program where agents can earn miles they can then use towards tickets and upgrades.
Born in Dubai over 20 years ago, Jumeirah Hotels now features 18 properties worldwide, nine of them Dubai, including the iconic Burj Al Arab, and one in Abu Dhabi, with a second beachfront resort – Jumeirah at Saadayit Island – scheduled to open in November.
Yannick Jullienne, associate director of sales for Arabian Adventures, a subsidiary of the Emirates Group, was also on hand to speak about his company, one of the leading destination management companies in the UAE. “We are the bridge between all [the hotels and excursions] and you,” said Jullienne, highlighting the company’s 30 years of experience, its contracts with over 450 hotels and resorts in the UAE, as well as the many other services it provides, among them airport meet-and-greets and a wide array of excursions in the destination, including camel polo, cultural interactions and desert camping.
Kerry Sharpe Columnist
Having worked in travel for the last 16 years, Kerry has experience covering the industry as media, as well as being under its lens when she worked for Thomas Cook, TravelBrands and itravel2000. A new mom, Kerry recently returned to the workforce and when she’s not chasing after her daughter, you’ll see her out and about covering industry events alongside her new BFF Tina the Travel Agent.