Ajman, the smallest emirate in the UAE, is making a play for a slice of the British tourism market having recently launched its tourist board in the UK and signing deals with trade-only tour operators.
Ian Scott, of Scott Marketing – which is representing the destination in the UK – said the emirate, a half hour’s drive from Dubai International airport, is a standalone destination from other well-known emirates but offers a more value-driven option for agents’ customers.
It will be working with UK consortia and the likes of Kuoni, dnata Travel B2B brands Travel 2 and Gold Medal, luxury operator If Only and Emirates Holidays and hopes to make deals with others.
Scott said that to raise awareness of the destination, which has around 6,000 hotel rooms to Dubai’s circa 120,000, it will be offering online trade training, incentives and fam trips.
“We don’t want to be Dubai, and we will never be Dubai,” said Scott. “Ajman is a destination in its own right. But the bright lights of Dubai are just down the road”
Scott suggested Ajman was a good option for value-driven customers wanting to head to the UAE that could be priced out of staying in Dubai, those that have been to Dubai and want something similar but different, and customers who have not been tempted by Dubai because they want a less bustling destination.
“The first step was ticking the tour operator box, but we are acutely aware that we need the trade on board to help us grow in the UK market. Now those tour operators are on board I’m sure we will get it on the map pretty quickly.
“As we head into 2019, we can put the structure in place to attract international visitors. I couldn’t give you UK visitor numbers for last year because it was practically nothing. It wasn’t even a factor in the figures we have.”
Scott said his experience promoting Dubai’s tourist board and theme parks at Dubai Parks and Resorts means he knows what the UK market is looking for in that region, as does the new director general of Ajman Tourism, Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry.