Dubai’s East-meets-West location means it will always be a big player in the stopover market.
It’s a destination in its own right – as you can see from our city guide – but being at the centre of things in the Gulf means its future as a Middle Eastern hub is assured.
The potential for selling twin-centre holidays is limited only by the extent of the airlines’ networks. And with the variety of carriers passing through, that’s hardly a limit.
Emirates is to double its flights to China from Dubai this year, increasing this month from the daily service to 12 flights a week, going twice a day from July 1.
There is no problem with red tape: single-entry visit visas for UK nationals cost $16 and can be obtained by filling in forms at main entry points. A new electronic visa procedure is being trialled among United Arab Emirates nationals with a view to being extended to tourists.
Emirates’ stopovers product allows travellers to stretch their holiday over the Gulf with a 96-hour visa, transfers and meet-and-assist on arrival and an Arabian Adventures Welcome Pack, offering discounts at retail and entertainment outlets. Bed-and-breakfast packages lead in at $69 per person.
Dubai Tourism’s UK office is boosting links with Asia this month when it hosts a joint fam with the Korean National Tourism Organisation.
Stopping over doesn’t have to mean flying to some far-off destination. Oman, for example, is fast becoming a destination of choice from Europe.
And its tourism emergence is good news for both destinations as operators can pitch twin-holiday packages to travellers looking for old and new Arabia.
Elite Vacations managing director Peter Jackson has noticed an upturn in stopover traffic. “Today’s stopover visitors are often breaking their journey from the Seychelles, Mauritius, the Maldives or South Africa and staying for as long as five nights.”
If your clients are going long haul to any of the following countries, Dubai is the perfect place to stopover.
Flying time: One hour from Dubai, seven hours to the UK. Or take the scenic route – Muscat is less than four hours’ drive from Dubai.
Attractions: A wealth of Arabian culture, forts, beaches and mountains, and resorts such as the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa in Muscat. More properties are emerging, such as the 82-villa Evason Hideway, in the Musandam mountains, which opens in November.
Sell it to: Couples looking for traditional Arabia. Peaceful Oman remains an appealing contrast to buzzing Dubai.
Sample product:Emirates Tours offers a six-night Shangri-La twin-centre package to Dubai and Muscat from £953 per person, based on two nights at the Shangri-La Dubai in a deluxe room and four nights at the Shangri-La Al Waha, Muscat, in a pool-view room, both on a bed-and-breakfast basis. Price includes flights and transfers in Dubai and Muscat.
Flying time: 11 hours to Shanghai on Emirates, and travelling to Beijing will be easier with two flights a day from Dubai from July. Air links between the two regions are flourishing, with China Southern Airlines starting a three-flights-a-week service from Dubai to Guangzhou, in addition to its existing three-flights-a-week Dubai-Beijing service.
Attractions: Head up the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, or shop to your heart’s content on Nanjing Road. Relax in Shanghai’s ancient gardens at Yuyuan Garden and soak up the history at the Shanghai Museum.
Sell it to: Asian golfers and shoppers and European tourists looking for a mix of east and west.
Sample product:Travel 2/4 offers Dubai-China twin centres from £2,248 per person, including flights from Heathrow to Hong Kong via Dubai, returning from Beijing via Dubai with Emirates; three nights’ bed and breakfast in Dubai at the Jebel Ali hotel and a 10-day Taste of China tour visiting Hong Kong, Guilin, Xian and Beijing; including guided tours, domestic flights and transfers.
Flying time: 14 hours, 45 minutes to Sydney; 13 hours, 30 minutes to Melbourne; 10 hours, 50 minutes to Perth.
Attractions: Vibrant cities, an idyllic coastline, world-famous beaches, lush national parks and the great outdoors – Australia appeals to all ages and tastes.
Sell it to: Anyone travelling southwards who wants to break up the 22-hour flight Down Under.
Sample product: Faraway Holidays offers two nights in Dubai from £169 per person including breakfast at the four-star Rydges Plaza Hotel as part of a stopover en route to Australia. Fourteen nights at the four-star Marlin Cove Resort in Cairns starts at £1,359 per person including flights and self-catering accommodation in September.