Tourism, hospitality players applaud UAE's new visa rules

Tourism, hospitality players applaud UAE's new visa rules

Many travellers stuck at an airport between their flights will not want to pass on the opportunity to go outside and explore the city, especially if the transit visa costs a mere Dh50, experts say.

The recent decision by the UAE Cabinet to exempt transit passengers from all entry fees for the first 48 hours, has been hailed by both tourism and hospitality officials as a major step that will bolster Dubai and the UAE’s attractiveness as an international visitor destination.

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In addition, it was also announced that the transit visa can be extended for up to 96 hours for a fee of Dh50. Visitors can obtain these transit visas at a number of express counters at the passport-control hall across UAE airports.

“The new visa policies for residents and tourists, that are meant to ease the travel process while saving time and money, will have an extremely positive impact on the hospitality and tourism industry,” Laurent A. Voivenel, senior vice-president of operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India for Swiss-Belhotel International. “The measures that are being taken will benefit all sectors of the economy, offering long-term gains for businesses as well as making the destination more attractive for travellers.”

Experts say that tourists on the transit visa will make the most of the time that is given to them, and check out some of the major attractions that are close to the airport, including the shopping malls. As a result many of them will be tempted to spend on gifts for their families and friends. In addition, many of the travellers will also prefer to spend their transit time by staying at a nearby hotel, rather than the airport. “This new directive, as part of many recently released by the government, will definitely provide additional stimulus to the hotel industry,” said Glenn Nobbs, general manager at Copthorne Hotel Dubai.

“Whereas many travellers previously would not have considered stepping out of the airport when on transit, this new visa rule introduces a whole new segment of travellers to Dubai. Being within four kilometres of Dubai International, we are looking forward to seeing this rule implemented, as it will help the overnight visitor numbers to Dubai grow. This will not only support hotel and tourism, but also transportation, food and beverage, even retail.”

Reports, such as the annual Mastercard Destination Cities Index, show that tourists tend to splurge during their visits to Dubai. In 2016, tourists in the city splurged $28.5 billion on shopping and visiting different landmarks.

This figure is far beyond that of other reputed destinations such as New York and London, which brought in $17.02 billion and $16.09 billion respectively in visitor spending during that period. Experts predict that the spending figure in Dubai will go up by 10 per cent in 2017, and will only continue to grow with the new visa rules for transit passengers.

Walid Al Awa, general manager at Tamani Marina Hotel and Hotel Apartment, pointed out that vendors should now create a set of various adventures that will be suitable and memorable for the transit visitors who opt to explore the city.

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