Dubai eyes China for lucrative incentive tourism market

The emirate hosted the International Dragon Awards in August, welcoming about 5,700 attendees



Dubai is increasingly looking to lure the lucrative incentive industry in China, as it heads closer to its vision of attracting 20 million visitors to the emirate by 2020.

As part of this plan, the emirate hosted the 16th edition of the International Dragon Awards at the Dubai World Trade Centre in August, welcoming about 5,700 attendees. The four-day event saw Chinese insurance and finance companies from 17 countries gather for meetings, networking, events, award ceremonies and sightseeing tours.

Dubai won the bid to host the event in August last year after a two-year investigatory process by the Worldwide Chinese Life Insurance Congress, the organisers of the event.

The emirate is the first city outside the Asia Pacific to host IDA.

Last year, Dubai, along with Abu Dhabi, also hosted a major incentives trip organised by Nu Skin China, which saw around 14,500 of its employees flying into the United Arab Emirates for a 10-day holiday.

Rewarding staff through overseas incentive travels is quite popular in China and hence the Asian country has become Dubai’s main target market for the meetings, incentives, conference and exhibition industry, director of Dubai Business Events Steen Jakobsen told Gulf Business.

According to estimates, the Chinese MICE industry is estimated to be worth $150bn and it is further growing at 20 per cent annually.

China is already a strong tourism market for Dubai – the Asian country is now the seventh largest source market for the emirate, according to officials.

Overnight visitors numbers from China in the first six months of 2015 reached 241,000 guests, up 25 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

Even with the devaluation of the Chinese currency, tourism authorities say visitor numbers are still continuing to grow.

“We don’t see a decline in events as most companies organise their events regardless of economic turmoil, whether it’s currency rate fluctuations or the price of oil. The annual meetings that organisations have is their yearly focal point where they get their staff, stakeholders, their partners and clients together; that’s where they generate community awareness about their brand,” Jakobsen explained.

Dubai Tourism is also taking efforts to provide tailored services for Chinese visitors, he said.

“It was an initiative that started last year when we hosted the Nu Skin incentive group. We conducted training for hundreds of Chinese-speaking tour guides so that they could explain about the sites, history and culture of Dubai to the delegates. We have also been working with our hotels and educating them about Chinese visitors, their mentality their culture and their approach,” he added.