UAE-headquartered hospitality company, TIME Hotels Management, is looking to capitalise on growing market interest from Russia, the Baltic states and CIS countries, as visitor numbers from across the region continue to grow, fuelled by new airline routes and an aggressive marketing strategy by local government tourism boards.
TIME doubled up on its participation in this year’s Leisure Moscow exhibition, with individual stands at the Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) pavilions, which netted the growing hospitality group three major contracts with the potential for over 15,000 room nights between now and May 2013.
“With more than 1,500 agents and 65,000 visitors at this year’s show, we were able to meet with key buyers and fast-track contracts for our entire portfolio of six hotels and hotel apartments in prime locations across Dubai and Sharjah,” said Mohamed Awadalla, Area Vice President, TIME Hotels Management.
“The growth in airline connectivity is a major driver for new business, with flydubai alone operating 78 scheduled weekly flights to 13 destinations in Russian, the CIS countries, Eastern and Central Europe,” he added.
According to DTCM, Russian hotel guests to the city increased by 22% in 2011 reaching 255,746 visitors versus 209,381 in 2010, while the Baltic states and CIS visitors grew from 443,363 in 2010 to 510,852 in 2011 – a jump of 15%. Sharjah has also become a favourite destination for Russian tourists, according to SCTDA Chairman HE Mohamed Ali Al Noman, who noted that the emirate registered a 15% increase in inbound business in 2011, with 390,860 visitors compared to 340,532 in 2010.
The bulk of prospective business for TIME will be generated through Dubai-based Omega Travel & Tourism and Pegas Tours Russia, over an eight-month period, with rooms allocations at flagship property, TI’ME Oak Hotel and Suites, along with allocations at TI’ME Grand Plaza Hotel, and the TI’ME Topaz, Opal, Crystal and Ruby Hotel Apartments.
A second deal with Alpha Tours, which recently opened an office in Ukraine in partnership with local operator Nathalie Tours Russia, will potentially net substantial additional room nights for the brand; with a third contract between the group and Voyage Tours for Byblos Tours Russia rounding out the new market opportunity.
“Year-to-date room nights from Ukraine have increased six-fold against the whole of 2011 figures, and we are also starting to see business filter in from Turkmenistan, while the numbers and average room rate from our Russian guests also reflecting a steady rise. In addition to room revenues, visitors from these markets have one of the highest per average capita spends when it comes to food and leisure activities,” said Awadalla.
“We are seeing increasing interest in both our Dubai and Sharjah properties as visitors pick up on the fact that there is more to the UAE than world-class shopping malls and landmarks, and also look to the Emirates as a major international sporting destination and expanding cultural hub,” he added.
Leading UAE tourism bodies including DTCM and SCTDA are also increasing their strategic marketing activities with SCTDA recently launching a Russian version of its website, and an increasing variety and number of destination brochures produced in Russian, Ukrainian and Baltic languages by DTCM.