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Eastern promises

Eastern promises

As they seek a path out of the economic crisis, Gulf countries and companies in various industries are increasingly looking to the Far East.

December 12, 2010 3:21 by

The Far East seems to be the focus of business early this week, as various media outlets report on closer ties between the Gulf and the Orient, across a number of industry segments.

First, the hospitality industry in Dubai has its eyes eastward, if Gulf News is correct. The paper reports that “an estimated 150 million new travellers from China and India are estimated to be on the lookout for destinations that meet their fancy.” [Kipp estimates they have a quota for using the word “estimate”.]

Spending by the Chinese, in particular, could jump a whopping 70 percent or more in the next five years, says the paper, and if Dubai can grab a percentage of that spend the woes of the emirate’s hospitality sector could be over. The paper quotes a report by Deloitte that says this could well be a “game changer”.
“Add to these ingredients the cultural and religious heritage of the Middle East, a young population and substantial investment in tourism infrastructure in the GCC led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar and the stage is set for the region to emerge as preferred destination for travel and tourism globally,” said the report.
Nice. But it goes on to say that the Far Eastern boost for the hospitality industry will be slow at first. “The outbound travel sector [in China] is still very much in its infancy, having only developed over the last five years,” said Deloitte. “As per capita GDP increases, we believe that Chinese travel patterns will evolve from domestic to regional and then onto long-haul.”
Gulf News says that “With each new flight being added by GCC carriers to a destination in China or India, future prospects for hotels get brighter.” Well in that case, the National has good news for you. In a move that underlines the growing importance of Far Eastern connections to the UAE, Etihad Airways has just bumped up the number of flights between Abu Dhabi and Beijing to seven a week. Well, actually the flights won’t kick in until July next year, but tickets will be on sale from December 15. Currently Etihad flies the route five times a week.

“It’s important [to have a daily service, so] business travellers know there is a flight every day. If you want to change, you know there’s a flight,” said James Hogan, the Etihad chief executive. “It improves your overall seat factor for the route and the quality of revenue and the quality of the yield.”

Etihad also has a number of freight services operating from Abu Dhabi to Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou, and reports that cargo space coming out of the three eastern destinations is 90 percent full.

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