Hilton sees big spike in Emirati holidaymakers
The easing of visa restrictions has resulted in a rise in the number of UAE residents heading to Europe for holidays, with Germany and Austria among the most popular destinations, global hotel chain Hilton has said.
Jochem-Jan Slieffer, the Hilton Hotel Area Vice President for Northern, Central and Eastern Europe, said freedom to move across the Schengen agreement visa-free zone has opened up mainland Europe for many.
London is well-established as a destination for wealthy families from the GGC - they spent £1.2 billion in 576,000 visits to Britain last year.
But he said now many are choosing mainland Europe, which also has direct flights - and sunny summer weather.
“The UAE is a highly sought-after source market for hoteliers globally and remains a top market for Hilton’s German and Austrian hotels,” said Slieffer.
“Outbound travellers from the UAE increased the number of room nights by a remarkable 60 per cent at Hilton hotels in Austria, between 2014 and 2015, and by 11 per cent in Germany.”
“The growing demand for travel from the Emirates to Germany and Austria is underpinned by improving travel accessibility and easing visa regulations - such as the recent move to offer Emirati citizens visa-free access to Schengen states for up to 90 days.
“Emirates Airlines’ launch of the A380 aircraft on its Dubai-Vienna route has also impacted significantly on Emirati traveller choices.
“It’s thanks to the new visa system that Vienna, Berlin and Munich are emerging as the new places to go when previously people would have just gone to London.”
Slieffer spoke to 7DAYS during a trip by Hilton to meet travel clients in the UAE.
He also spoke about the nuances of GCC residents travelling to Europe.
“They tend to travel with extended families and bring a lot of luggages,” said Slieffer. “We’ve had to redesign our layout in some cases to accommodate that.”
He said that Hilton has even partitioned off corridors in order to allow conservative guests to freely walk in and out of each other’s rooms without fear of disturbing, or being disturbed by, other families in the halls.
GOING TO TOWN: Munich and Vienna (inset) are popular destinations with Emirati tourists