The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has kicked off its fourth season of the "World's Coolest Winter Campaign." This initiative, started by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, aims to boost tourism within the country. The UAE plans to grow the tourism sector significantly, targeting a contribution of $123 billion to its GDP by 2031.

UAE Launches Winter Tourism Campaign Aiming for Record GDP Growth
(Photo : mostafa meraji on Unsplash)

UAE Launches New Winter Tourism Campaign

This year's campaign, themed "Unforgettable Stories," features various programs, events, and activities designed to attract both local and international tourists. The UAE is well-known for its pleasant weather, natural scenery, architectural wonders, and cultural landmarks. Its friendly and welcoming locals add to the charm of visiting this Middle Eastern nation.

In its third season, the campaign was quite successful. According to the Arabian Business, it drew 1.4 million tourists, an 8% increase from the previous season, and reached 190 million people globally. The focus of the campaign is to showcase the unique attractions of each emirate, ensuring visitors have a memorable experience filled with diverse events and activities.

Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, the Minister of Economy and Chairman of the Emirates Tourism Council, noted the campaign's significant role in enhancing both inbound and outbound tourism. He highlighted the UAE's tourism sector's strong performance, outdoing many global tourism markets.

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Meanwhile, statistics show a promising trend in UAE's tourism. The report revealed that from January to September 2023, hotel revenues reached AED 32.2 billion ($8.8 billion), marking a 27% increase over the same period in 2022. Hotel occupancy rates also rose to 75%, with 20.2 million guests recorded during these months.

The UAE's diverse tourism offerings include eco-tourism, desert adventures, cultural and heritage sites, beach activities, mountain sports, and shopping festivals. These attractions contribute to making the UAE a top destination for tourists worldwide.

UAE Residents Benefit from Faster Schengen Visa Processing

UAE passport holders enjoy visa-free travel to Schengen countries, but for foreigners residing in the UAE, obtaining a Schengen visa was a lengthy process, taking one to two months. However, recent improvements have significantly reduced the turnaround time for these visas, with European embassies in the UAE now offering quicker processing times of under two weeks.

Despite these improvements, Monaz Billimoria, Regional Head at VFS Global, recommends that UAE residents plan ahead to avoid potential delays, especially during peak travel seasons.

Travel and Leisure reported a 12% increase in visa applications between 2019 and 2023, with a remarkable 145% surge from 2021 to 2023. Europe remains a top travel destination for UAE residents, even with a 22% rise in travel expenses.

Daniel Rosado, Director of the Spanish Tourism Office in Abu Dhabi, notes an increased interest in Spain as a travel destination. Seat projections for Spain's winter campaign from the UAE rose by 7.9%, while searches and airline bookings increased by 27% and 29.1%, respectively.

Analyzing the reduction in airfares, people can see a significant change in economy fares for the Dubai to Paris route. In December 2023, the flight cost approximately USD 452.55 (INR 37,601). However, the projected rates between Jan. 10 and 24 are USD 143.20 (INR 11,881) via Wizz Air and USD 271.09 (INR 22,599) via Emirates. These developments make European travel more accessible and attractive to UAE residents.

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