From left: Rajendran N.P., Financial Controller of Akbar Travels Group; Santhosh Cheriyan, Regional Manager of Akbar Travels for the Gulf; R. Kannan, General Manager of Akbar Travels Group, and Swamy, DIC Branch Manager, at a press conference yesterday. Image Credit: Supplied picture

Dubai: India-based travel company Akbar Travels of India will tap into the underserved market of corporate travel in the UAE as it expands into this country.

"It is a bulk travel market that gives us volume and value for less marketing expenses," R. Kannan, general manager, said yesterday at a press conference in Dubai.

With its 13th office opening in Dubai Internet City, it plans to add seven more by the end of next year, company officials said.

While companies are currently cutting back on costs and employee travel is taking a hit, Kannan said the travel agency had not yet felt the impact of the recession.

"There are only slight ups and downs that we experienced, but Dubai is a big jumping pad and there is growth in the Gulf," he said.

With a turnover in its home market of Dh3 billion and a Middle East turnover of over Dh500 million, Akbar Travels is one of the largest travel companies in India, where it has 55 branches.

Its expansion plan for the region includes four new branches in Saudi Arabia and Oman and two in Qatar. It already has four offices in these countries. It is also considering entering the Kuwaiti market.

Rajendran N.P., finance manager, said the investment going into each additional outlet is approximately Dh6 million.

The company will launch its 13th office in the UAE, citing Dubai as the bridge between developed Western countries and the growth markets of the East.

"Corporate travel is coming up and we expect 25 per cent growth in sales," said Santosh Cheriyan, regional manager, Akbar Travels of India, for the Gulf. In overall turnover growth for the UAE, he said a similar number is expected.

"Once you get corporate clients, you are much more recognised," Kannan said.

Future plans include an increased focus on holiday travel. The company is currently in talks with several corporations for potential business. "Dubai's growth is coming back, and corporate travel is the primary force," Cheriyan said.

Akbar Travels entered the Middle Eastern market in 2006 in Sharjah. Within a short span of five years the company has grown to open five major IATA branches and seven satellite offices in the UAE.