India outbound is fast becoming a lucrative market for international tourism boards, which is evident from the number of entrants in the market. Waking up to the potency of tourism as a revenue generator, a number of destinations, the most recent being Macau and Canada, are promoting their every saleable feature. Dubai, however, continues to rule the travel roost.
Looking upon India as a high-potential region for its inbound tourism market, Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) is targeting the Indian market with an aggressive marketing strategy. Its office in India functions as an initial contact point and query-processing centre for companies interested in doing business in Dubai and for the Indian travel trade and media. So, what is on their India-specific agenda? “DTCM’s agenda in India is to promote commerce and tourism through marketing activities such as presentations, roadshows, advertising, brochure distribution, direct sales meetings and media education programmes, which include familiarization visits for business and travel journalists to Dubai,” explains the spokesperson.
Destination Dubai is an innovative example of destination marketing. Its success formula is simple: the ongoing month-long Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF). And the destination is shrewd enough to not merely host a sale. Comments Khalid A Bin Sulayem, Director General, Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), “DSF is only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many facets of Dubai still waiting to be discovered.”
Multi-venue activities have been designed to offer visitors an insight into the Emirate’s history, cultural richness, diversity and social life. The calendar of events includes Al Shindagha, Hatta Heritage Village and other historical landmarks. Says Sulayem, “While Dubai continues to allure tourists for shopping, we have reinvented it as a destination for the culturally inclined. The programmes organised by DTCM are a major draw for visitors every year. The department has introduced new programmes this year and improvised the popular ones to enhance the visitors’ experience.”
On marketing the new initiatives in India, Sulayem says that the fraternity of people who appreciate art and culture in India is growing and is no longer the domain of a privileged few. “We face a huge challenge in changing the mindset of the tour operator, penetrating his comfort zone, and spearheading an entirely new travel movement. Indians coming to Dubai need something different from plain shopping. While the first-time traveler may be overwhelmed by its ‘wow’ effect, the ‘culture curry’ needs to be served to the seasoned traveler,” he says.
Looking at the bigger picture, ‘Position the product and enhance its existing USP’ appears to be the mantra of the tourism industry.