Dubai: The CEO of Dubai Tourism has said that he would welcome Indians being granted visa-on-arrival status to the emirate.
Asked which countries he would like to see Dubai open up to, Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), told Gulf News in an interview: “India for sure. For sure. That would be the easiest one for me to look at.”
“Also, tie it in with transit passengers that are travelling with Emirates Airlines. Know which ones the visa will be a barrier for, because they’re right on your doorstep,” Kazim added.
He said that as part of the authority’s strategy, Dubai Tourism looks “at the top 10 or top 20 source markets, and we have regular updates with government stakeholders so they know the potential certain countries have” for visa-on-arrival status.
Russian visitors spiked by over 120 per cent in 2017 compared to the year before, after Russia was granted visa-on-arrival status by the UAE, while China rose by over 40 per cent, after it too was granted the same standing, according to Dubai Tourism data.
Most recently, the UAE cabinet authorised a policy granting entry visas to transit passengers, across all of the country’s airports.
The visa will be granted to transit passengers who wish to visit the country's landmarks and tourist attractions.
The new policy aims to enhance transit visa procedures to enable stopover passengers to enjoy a day out in the country, thus boosting the tourism industry.
In a wide-ranging interview with the official at the Arabian Travel Market event on Tuesday (ATM), Kazim, who is responsible for executing the government’s now-famous strategy of attracting 20 million tourists to Dubai by 2020, made multiple references to the city’s attempts to “diversify” its approach to tourism.
The tourism official said that the push towards mid-scale hotels, reflected in the recent rise of Emaar’s Rove brand, and Jumeirah’s Zabeel House brand, had been successful in attracting a different demographic to the five-star luxury resorts, while denying that overpriced tickets were the reason behind the poor performance of the city’s theme parks.
“It’s not the pricing. It takes time to become an integral part of the tourism offering. The newer theme parks are world class. Eventually, they will become as well-known as the Wild Wadi water park and other attractions like it,” Kazim said.
Meanwhile, the tourism official confirmed that there was no move to legalise gambling in Dubai, despite the imminent arrival of three of the world’s most famous hotel casino brands.
The MGM Grand, the Bellagio, and as of last week Caesars Palace, are all heading for Dubai, with the latter set to open this year. They are the second and fourth largest casino companies in the world by 2017 revenues.
None of the hotels will features casinos, unlike their counterparts in Las Vegas.
Asked if there was any appetite for casinos, which are considered haram, or forbidden in Islam, Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), told Gulf News that Dubai was interested in preserving its Islamic culture.
“No [there is not a desire for casinos] … We need to bear in mind that there are cultural things that are a priority to us,” Kazim said.