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United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) tour operators, retailers and hoteliers are focusing their efforts on attracting the fancy of Chinese tourists, according to

Gassan Aridi, CEO of Alpha Tours was quoted in the report saying since the UAE signed an agreement with China that promoted it as an ‘approved destination’ a year ago, the country has seen more Chinese tourists.

Alpha Tours, which has representation in China, has been boosting its direct promotion there to entice more tourists.

Local hospitality majors such as Jumeirah Group and Rotana have also noted an influx of tourists from China and have stepped up their efforts to attract more.

“We’ve had huge influxes, particularly during their holidays. During the Chinese New Year this year, at one stage 80% of our occupancy at the Burj Al Arab was Chinese,” said Gerald Lawless, executive chairman of Jumeirah Group.

Jumeirah is expanding operations in China to increase brand awareness, and Rotana has set up a sales office in Shanghai to promote itself and bring in tourists from the East.

According to the latest annual China Outbound Tourism Development report, tourists from the mainland will make 65 million trips abroad, up from 57.39 million in 2010.

“Because of the economy in China, people are starting to travel outside more than before,” said Aridi.

The UAE is one country that has been benefiting from this increase. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, there has been a surge in the number of tourists visiting Dubai from emerging markets.

The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing expects the number of Chinese visitors to Dubai to increase by more than a half this year.

“Last year we had a 58% increase from the Chinese market. This year it might be more than 58%,” said Aridi.

The increase in affluent Chinese tourists is also driving luxury retail sales. The high-end retailer Riv-oli said the Chinese are the main drivers of luxury product sales across major markets including the UAE.

“They contribute substantially to the sales of Rivoli Prestige’s portfolio of brands and over the last few quarters have been the single largest growth contributor to our retail sales,” said Abraham Koshy, group general manager at Rivoli.

The China Tourism Academy says that Chinese tourists, who are the world’s fourth biggest tourist spenders, are expected to spend $55 billion overseas this year.

According to Koshy, the average spend by Chinese tourists in their boutiques at the Burj Al Arab and Al Qasr Hotel is over $10,000 while their average spend at stores located in malls is $2,000 to $3,000.

To enhance the shopping experience, Rivoli has trained their staff to speak Mandarin and Cantonese at most of their boutiques. – Source:


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