Hil­ton sees big spike in Emi­rati hol­i­day­mak­ers

7 Days in Dubai - - BUSINESS -

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

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