Dubai working to attract tourists as Russian visitors decline 23.5%

Slump in the rouble has led to falling visitor numbers from Russia

PHOTO: Empty chairs.... The number of Russian tourists to Dubai declined 23.5% last year. Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai is stepping up tourism efforts and introducing new flights to make up for a dip in Russian tourists, according to media reports.

The number of tourists from Russia declined 23.5% last year as the rouble plunged, with the drop continuing in the first quarter of 2015, said Helal Al Marri, director general of Dubai Tourism Commerce and Marketing.

“The challenges in tourism are many and every year one market is affected,” Al Marri said, quoted in Bloomberg. “This year it is the euro and the rouble. There was a big drop in visitors from Russia in 2014 and in 2015 we expect this to continue, especially in the first quarter.”

Russians account for 3 percent of visitors to Dubai, Al Marri added.

Last December, The National reported that Russian tourist numbers in Dubai were down by almost a half compared to a year earlier.

Dubai is increasing its marketing spend in the country because Russia’s woes will eventually fade, Al Marri said.

In the wake of declining demand from the country, budget carrier FlyDubai cut back on flights to Russia by 30-40% last year. But the airline is optimistic about 2015, chief executive Ghaith Al Ghaith told Bloomberg.

“We’ve seen improvements and forecast a better season coming up,” he said.

FlyDubai last month announced it would begin direct flights to two new destinations in Russia, Novosibirsk and Nizhniy Novgorod from October onwards.

“Strategically, Russia is a very important market,” he said. “It gave us lots of growth. We’ve scaled down but the commitment is there.”

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