By: OKORIE UGURU
Dubai, the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is one of the favourite destinations for Nigerian travellers. It is a top leisure destination for both leisure and business vacations for many Nigerians. This is attested to by the volume of flights from Nigeria that terminates in the city either directly or indirectly.
In recognition of this, the Dubai Tourism bureau is making efforts to woo Nigerian travellers and carve greater share of the Nigeria’s international travel market. The tourism bureau was in the country last year for the Akwaaba tourism fair.
Based on the success of the first foray in the Nigerian market at the fair, the bureau embarked on a roadshow to three key cities in Nigeria to introduce to those in the travel trade and the public some of the products and services Dubai has for Nigerian tourists.
The team from the Dubai Tourism bureau was led by Stella Obinwa, the head of Dubai Tourism, Africa Region.
She spoke on why Dubai is attracted to the Nigerian market. She said: “Nigeria is such a wonderful market for Dubai that I would be here over and over again. We will do as much as we can to support the travel trade and the consumers to visit Dubai.”
Asked to describe the experience of her bureau in Nigeria so far, Obinwa confirmed that the roadshow was a follow-up to the success of Dubai Tourism’s participation in 2015 Akwaaba.
“ I have not heard of any unsuccessful part of whatever we’ve done in Nigeria in the past six or seven months. Akwaaba was very successful for us. It was Dubai Tourism’s first time there, and for our first time, we won this International Stand Award.
“ Our station was the most active. We actually came with about five companies for that trip, and based on the experience, we decided to do the roadshow. For the roadshow, we brought in about 24 different brands and between now and the next seven hours, all the representatives of those brands will be here.
“We are doing three cities, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. Our intention is not to just keep on informing you about Dubai. We want to inform the broader public, which means touching the East, North, South and West. Hopefully, Abuja would cover all of the North for us, Port Harcourt would cover all of the East and South South and Lagos covers the West.
“The format is a truly very informative roadshow. Each of these brands will be given a time slot to do a full-blown presentation of what they have to offer in Dubai, specifically what they have to offer to Nigerians. Then, we would all get to network and mingle. The invited guests for the roadshow have one-on-one chance with each of those representatives that come from Dubai to really cement the relationship and form a better plan of what they want to sell in Nigeria and how those Dubai companies can help them. So, we believe that we are making the environment to grow business for people of two different countries, Nigerians and Emiratis.”
Obinwa said it was based on the importance Dubai attaches to the Nigerian market that top tourism and hospitality groups in Dubai were part of the show.
“ We have a captain from the Dubai Emigration Service on this trip. He will start the presentation to explain the whole visa process and he will also explain the different kinds of visa that Dubai has to offer. Even in my short conversation with him, he told me about different kinds of visa that I wasn’t even aware of. I think it is going to be fabulous information. That is on the government side. Then, we are bringing in Dubai parks that are opening this summer.
“It will take you at least a whole week to visit the whole parks. We brought in Starwood Hotels and Emaar Hotels.We are bringing in Amani , Buri Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. We also have a few destination management companies, Emirates Holidays, Emirate Airlines and Damac Properties. They are comparable to Emaar.
“We tried to bring properties or activities that we know will interest an average African, in particular the Nigerian.
“In everything we are doing in African market, we are starting with Nigeria because Nigeria gives us our biggest volume, but we are also focusing on East and South Africa as well because you are here, you are not seeing what we are doing.
“ It was in South Africa, in the beginning of April, that we announced that we are going to do a FAM trip for 500 African agents and we would pull all those agents from all over Africa, 10 different countries to be exact and we will pay for them for five days and five nights to explore Dubai.
“ You know it is easy to sell what you have seen and touched, and it is not just the best performing travel agents. We keep only focusing on the best performers; we will only have a limited market.
“We are also interested in those that have paid attention to Dubai, but need that little bit of more information to help them grow their business. The only way we can grow this market is to increase our touch point and not just focus on five or six touch points,”she said.
She also talked about the bureau’s experience in the World Travel Market (WTM).
“We also won an award there. WTM Africa is in its third year and in the first year, quite a few companies participated, and they were comparing to other international travelling exhibitions in London and Berlin.
“The second year, a lot of companies didn’t participate. When I joined Dubai Tourism, I said Africa could not be compared to other continents. Africa is an emerging continent, an emerging market. We have to give it time to grow, so we have to be in that South Africa WTM to show that we are committed.
“It was so well done, and one thing we always ask our Dubai participants is: do you want us to do this again next year? They all signed up for next year even though it is 12 months away, “she said.
“The three-city roadshow was held in Lagos- Federal Palace Hotel, then it moved to Port Harcourt-Hotel Presidential and then Abuja Sheraton. It was the same format every where.
“In Lagos we invited over 180 guests, in Port Harcourt about 100 and in Abuja about 150. Airlines and National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA) gave us a list of travel agencies,” she said.