The airports of the UAE are among the busiest in the world, providing a vital air transit hub to hundreds of thousands of passengers daily. According of official estimates, some 70 per cent of airline passengers remain in transit, never leaving the confines of the airport to experience the world-class tourism attractions, missing an opportunity to enjoy a collection of the world’s unique sights and experiences, and missing out too on enjoying Emirati culture, heritage and hospitality.
This 70 per cent segment reflects the success to a large extent of the national carriers of the UAE who link most corners of the globe to those on the far side through the hubs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai generally. The reality though, is that these transit passengers offer an untapped potential audience in which to market those tourism attractions – even if the transit passengers are only able to sample the UAE’s attractions for mere hours.
On Sunday, the UAE Cabinet gave the green light to a proposal to grant entry visas to transit passengers at all the nation’s airports. Simply put, the new policy will allow these passengers to leave the airport between flights and then experience a quick taste of the best this country has to offer. Imagine then passengers travelling from United States to Asia or from the United Kingdom to Australia being able to break their journeys and experience the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi or the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and get a small sample of the flavours of this unique land. This is a progressive and timely proposal, one that will have an immediate effect on footfalls and boost the tourism and hospitality sectors.