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Dubai in the spotlight

  • Air
  •   03-12-2015  9:00 am

Dubai in the spotlight

Emirates Airline, in collaboration with partners from Kompas Express, Jumeirah Hotels and the Dubai Tourism Office, hosted a special travel trade event on March 10 to showcase a destination that is quickly becoming one of the world's tourism hotspots.

PAX recently reported on the airline's mission to change perceptions of Dubai's accessibility by profiling it as a viable option for long-weekend getaways and sun vacations to the Canadian market. Perhaps one of the biggest barriers is the long flight time - approximately 11.5 hours - but Don McWilliam, country manager, Emirates, illustrated how that point is irrelevant when compared to other tourism favourites such as Hawaii, which could take more than 12 hours to travel to from Toronto. Pair that with the world-class service of the A380 and a destination with so much to offer, and it's a winning combination, he said.

Chippy Jegga, SkyRoute & Leyland Sampayo, eastern Canada sales manager, Emirates

Proof is in the numbers, as 11 million tourists visited Dubai in 2014. Regarding Canadians specifically, arrival numbers grew exponentially from 76,000 in 2013 to more than 90,000 the year following, with expectations of more than 110,000 by 2016 and one million from North America overall by 2020. Tapping into this potential, the tourism board is now in the process of opening a full-fledged office in New York, led by Jessica Herring, director.

Out of Toronto, Emirates offers service Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, though Western Canadians are also taking advantage of Seattle departures, especially considering accessible connections with Alaska Airlines and WestJet.

Kompas Express, which is the official fulfillment centre for the Dubai stopover program, is also responsible for Dubai requests from Emirates passengers ( Other tour operators such as ALBATours and Goway are adding Dubai to their product line-up as well. 

Whether for snowbirds or individuals seeking a new experience, the tourism office is positioning Dubai as a must-visit destination. Herring said that while there are a wealth of five-star accommodations - including the famed Jemeirah Burj Al Arab Hotel - the number of three- and four-star rooms is expected to grow by 25,000 in the next 1.5 years.

It's the "land of opportunity," Herring said, liking it to the Hollywood hit Field of Dreams, which is known for the famous quote, "If you build it, they will come."

The skyline has developed at an incredible pace over the past few decades, now the symbol of a city that can appeal to various travel desires, Herring said. Some of its success factors include access to cultural experiences such as pearl diving or fish markets, to a vibrant culinary scene and nightlife. The director also referred to Dubai as "a light in the Middle East," noting that there are no safety concerns to be had.