Airlines are trying to attract more families from the Gulf and the subcontinent to the UAE during the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF) with special offers and promotions.
Thousands of tourists are keen to visit Dubai to pick up some DSF bargains and see the newly opened Burj Khalifa. The twin attractions are expected to boost visitor numbers by 10 per cent.
Budget carrier Air Arabia is offering a return ticket plus visa for Dh700 to travellers from Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Iran, targeting families who want to attend the festival. And Emirates and Kingfisher Airlines also have special offers intended to bring family and friends to the UAE.
An Air Arabia return ticket plus visa for visitors from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt costs Dh850. For passengers from India, Pakistan, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, a return ticket plus family visa costs Dh1,050 per person, while the cost is Dh1,450 for families from Kenya, Russia, Khazakistan, Greece and Ukraine.
"These offers include a one-month tourist visa to the UAE subject to approval from the authorities and an Air Arabia return ticket for one passenger inclusive of surcharge and exclusive of airport tax," said an Air Arabia source.
Emirates' DSF offers include a free night's stay at a hotel for passengers who pay for two nights, special hotel rates from $47 (Dh172.49) per person per night, free visas and 20 per cent bonus Skywards points for those booking three family tickets.
Khalid bel Jaflah, the airline's Vice-President for Commercial Operations UAE, said: "Emirates' free visa with VISA offer for the Dubai Shopping Festival has been extremely well received by our customers.
"DSF is an exciting time in the Dubai social calendar and as one of the event's major sponsors, we are pleased to be able to help families across the Emirates bring their loved ones to Dubai to share in the festivities."
Indian private airline Kingfisher has announced a special package for friends and relatives of UAE-based non-resident Indians.
Vinay Nambiar, the carrier's Regional Manager for Oman, the UAE and Qatar, said: "We give a special package with family visa to all passengers who book ticket to the UAE during the DSF season. This is a double advantage for cost-conscious Indian passengers who can stay with friends or family.
"While many hotels offer a visa facility, they charge Dh500 or more and insist that the tourists stay at their hotels. Our offer will enable tourists to save money by staying with friends or family."
He said all Kingfisher flights were almost fully booked and the announcement of the new package had increased the pressure on seats. "A lot of Indians in the UAE would like to bring their friends and relatives to see the Burj Khalifa," he added. "Even without special promotions bookings are good."
The 32-day festival continues until February 28. In previous years, many Indian families and friends have visited the UAE during this period for family reunions and shopping. Asian customers are considered vital for the retailers and brands participating in the event.
The Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (Depe – formerly the Dubai Shopping Festival Office) has launched a package called Discounted Travel to Dubai for DSF 2010 to encourage visitors, especially families, to visit Dubai.
The initiative is being offered in conjunction with the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors. It provides value-added benefits such as discounted travel and hotel rates and special shopping offers to visitors during DSF. More than 30,000 families are expected to take advantage of the package – equal to an additional 90,000-plus visitors to Dubai during the festival period.
Depe CEO Laila Suhail said: "Dubai during DSF has traditionally been synonymous with the excitement and fun of special offers and discounts, in addition to the carnival-like atmosphere that grips the entire city during the days of the festival. Depe is focusing on reinvigorating the excitement that characterised Dubai in the early days of DSF."
Keep up with the latest business news from the region with the Emirates Business 24|7 daily newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.