After Covid-19 lull, Asian destinations go flat out to woo Indian tourists

Indian visitors have, over the years, impressed the tourism industry by their spending capacity

After Covid-19 lull, Asian destinations go flat out to woo Indian tourists
An aerial view of Dubai. Image courtesy: Facebook/

One of the worst affected industries as a result of Covid-19 has surely been tourism. Not only the tourist destinations but every single service related to travel has been hit badly.

Now in 2021, some Asian destinations are hoping to be back in business and are particularly keeping in mind Indian visitors, who, over the years, have impressed the industry by their spending capacity.

Destinations like the UAE, the Maldives and Singapore are already prepared to welcome Indian tourists. They are leaving no stone unturned to restore confidence in the travellers. Influencer campaigns and attractively-priced packages in partnership with airlines seem to be the way forward for them.

“With international destinations reopening for tourists, there has been a significant demand. We have witnessed an impressive growth rate of 25-30%. Destinations such as Dubai and Maldives have seen 100% growth in bookings in December compared to previous months. We have obtained not just queries, but also encouraging bookings for Egypt," a SOTC spokesperson told Live Mint.

Also read: India sees red after UAE carriers violate air bubble conditions

The move follows a surge in demand for airline seats in December, fuelled by demand from holiday travellers from India to Dubai and festivals and year-end travel by expatriate Indians from the Emirate to their home states.

According to industry sources, several Indian carriers have registered about 90% passenger load factor (PLF) last month, besides increased airfares in December.

“We will be increasing our number of flights to Dubai this month, though the overall number of flights to the UAE this month could be almost the same as last month. We will also be increasing the frequency of our flights to Dubai from some of the cities in India,” a senior Air India Express official told Arabian Business.

“South Asia makes up for 32% of all visitors during this period (July onwards) and we’ve seen positive growth month-on-month with Indian travellers. We have worked hard to curate a robust calendar of events and attractions to delight travellers in 2021. Starting with the annual Dubai shopping festival (in January), Dubai has a lot to offer across interests and budgets," Abdulla Yousuf, Acting Director, Proximity Market, Dubai Tourism, told Live Mint.

Dubai will kick start its food festival 'Gastronomy' in February, while the Art Dubai event will begin in March. The Dubai Expo, which was scheduled to start in October 2020, would now commence from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022. It would be one of the biggest business events, in which India is slated to be an active participant.  

The tourists from India who are making plans to visit the UAE are asked to take two Covid-19 RT-PCR tests, one not more than 96 hours before departure and a second test upon arrival in Dubai. 

Also read -- Covid effect: 6 countries that red-carded Indian carriers

The tourism board of Dubai would be running phased campaigns since April to woo travellers from India, which remains its top source market. To boost demand, it is also running the ‘Live Your Story’ campaign across social media platforms to encourage travellers.

Air India Express, which operates the maximum number of flights between India and the UAE, has scheduled 310 flights to Dubai for January from cities across India, as against 255 flights last month. Budget carrier SpiceJet is also expanding its wings in the UAE cities by adding more flights to Ras Al Khaimah.

Meanwhile, the Maldives has also begun attracting tourists to its beaches and luxury resorts after India established an air bubble agreement in August. 

“We have worked with Singapore Airlines and AirAsia and will start new campaigns this month with Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Astana. Other key campaigns with stakeholders (hotel properties and resorts) are in the process. As we have opened resorts, guesthouses and liveaboards, we see various attractive offers from different properties. We have provided industry stakeholders with a platform to promote those packages and their experiences," Thoyyib Mohamed, Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corp told Live Mint.

Singapore, on the other hand, has a different strategy. It is investing in digital and social media outreach in partnership with Zomato, BookMyShow, and NH7 Weekender music festival to stay connected with Indians.