Tourism and Holidays in Dubai as it used to be
Dubai Tourism in 1970s: Sun, Sand and No Tourists!
Dubai's Expatriate population increased in the early 1970s as major development projects got underway. Dubai's Travel Agents focused on Expatriate travel needs and those of the increasing number of wealthy local families. Most Expatriates were employed on contract terms with their Employer providing air fares for annual or bi-annual leave in their home country. Travel Agents competed for this Corporate business but had few opportunities to offer "great deals" as Airlines controlled air travel in and out of Dubai. Securing Corporate business meant the Travel Agent discounting his booking fees and promising Senior Managers a Business Class upgrade when they travelled!
Summer brought an exodus of local and Expatriate families. Schools closed for nearly four months over the summer. No parent wanted the prospect of entertaining their children for four months in Dubai's summer heat - so they moved to cooler climates, usually home countries for Expatriates and primarily Europe and USA for local families.
Grannies and Grandpas, Uncles and Aunts, Brothers and Sisters
Dubai was perceived as hot, humid and sandy. No sensible Tourist would visit Dubai! Expatriates saw Dubai differently. Dubai was hot and humid for four months; another four months would be almost Mediterranean climate; the remaining four months could be cooler and sometimes wet and windy. But Dubai's beachfront was only minutes from anyone's front door.
Sheikh Rashid created a welcoming environment that encouraged Expatriates to bring their families to live in Dubai. Soon those families were inviting family and relations they had left back home to come to Dubai for a holiday. Over time an increasing number of Grannies, Grandpas and family members traveled to Dubai. They did not need hotels. Their "hotel" room was the guest bedroom in their Dubai family's house. "Granny Flights" became a seasonal feature at Dubai International Airport.
Sun, Sand and Services
Grannies and Grandpas took home a different perception of Dubai. They enjoyed their Dubai holiday and anxious to tell everyone back home. They became unofficial Ambassadors for Dubai. Word spread. Everyone seemed to know someone who knew someone who had been on holiday in Dubai!
By late 1980s Dubai's Travel Industry began to think about promoting Inbound Tourism i.e. attracting Tourists to visit Dubai. They faced many hurdles. Airlines still controlled air traffic into and out of Dubai. Emirates Airlines had yet to establish - in 1987 Emirates operated just two aircraft. Few tourist hotels plus cumbersome immigration procedures and lack of backup services worked against Inward Tourism. Despite these advserse cirmcumstances Al Rostamani and Thomas Cook joined forces to offer a comprehensive 1986/87 package for Tourists.