After recently been named the world’s leading travel destination, United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Dubai province is targeting Zimbabwe as one of the key African tourism source markets.
According to The Chronicle, the two countries already enjoy cordial bilateral relations amid increasing volumes of trade in goods and services, as well mutual investment interests.
Official figures indicate that the UAE has become Zimbabwe’s second largest trading partner after South Africa, with the country realising more than US$1,4 billion in annual export earnings in 2021 alone. Tied to the growing economic relations has been the jump in volume of business and leisure travel, which has seen UAE’s flagship airline, the Emirates, launching direct flights to Zimbabwe.
Following the imposition of a visa ban late last year on Nigerians seeking to visit Dubai, which was a culmination of several diplomatic rows, the world’s leading tourism destination, has turned its eyes to East and Southern Africa among other countries it regards as rich sources for their tourists.
“The attention of Dubai’s Tourism Ministry and the UAE has now shifted to other African countries like DRC, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Kenya and also South Africa, as a result of the ban to provide them with the yearly number of tourists visiting the city,” RivExcel, the agency that handles media for Dubai Tourism in sub-Saharan, said.
Nigeria used to be one of Dubai’s main sources of tourists until October 2022 when a visa ban was pronounced on all citizens of Nigeria and three other African countries. “This is to inform you that we will not be posting 30 days visa applications for these nationalities effective today October 18, 2022”, part of the notice read.
The authorities then informed all travel agencies, and trade partners that, “Any applications from the above-mentioned countries will be sent back or cancelled.”
Given the increased focus on Eastern and Southern Africa source markets, the Dubai tourism ministry recently employed the services of South African singer Thabsie and Kenyan celebrity Bahati as tourism ambassadors. The search for other celebrities is also on, according to close sources.
The two stars have been tasked to use their popularity to show Africans what Dubai has to offer through their own eyes courtesy of their individual experiences, said the agency. Thabsie and Bahati, who are already in Dubai are expected to engage in a friendly campaign called the “A to Z of Dubai” where they will, letter by letter, convince their followers to visit or revisit Dubai.
The aim of the campaign is to show potential visitors the vast array of choices available in Dubai from the adventure to the wildlife, to all of the healthcare and the newly available options in business and leisure, said the agency. It noted that the initial feedback suggests the campaign could be a big success with target audiences responding very well to the celebrity experiences.