Benazir Nazar, Chief Executive Officer, Akbar Holidays, shares an account of what went behind successfully conducting a M!CE group tour of 1,800 delegates to Dubai in February 2021. She says that the operations team in India also made sure that all visas and COVID-19 tests were done on time.
Sun, shopping and some of the world’s best hotels – people visit Dubai to absorb it all. From incredible modern architecture to glossy beaches and high-end restaurants and hotels, this is a stylish blend of a city and beach break. We, at Akbar Holidays, are proud to share that we successfully operated a group of 1800 delegates to Dubai, accepting the new norms, in the last week of February 2021.
Commitment to the client to operate a group of such size was a tough decision during these unprecedented times. But, we have always believed that there is nothing in it but to prepare, adapt and persevere. It took us several trips, meticulous planning, numerous Zoom calls and meetings with the Dubai tourism board to prepare and make sure that every new norm in the book was followed and executed to a T. Our operations team in India made sure that all visas and COVID-19 tests were done on time. And, we managed to operate this group in the midst of the air bubble where there were very few airlines flying to Dubai since many airlines’ slots were cut down from 7-8 to merely one or two slots. All this was possible as we could manage permissions to operate charters.
Seamless entry and exit
Our pre committee team along with the team of our local DMC, Arabian Journeys, made sure everything was seamless from the time the group arrived until they departed. Just like the residents, we experienced the city’s precautionary measures first-hand. While those masks can prove irritating in the UAE heat, it’s good to know you’re in a country with a relatively low infection rate, in part because of the masks. The mask rule extends to Dubai’s theme parks, such as IMG Worlds of Adventure, where rules apply on two-metre social distancing and keeping every other seat empty, except when occupied by family members.Visitors should get used to the smell of the sanitiser. Dispensers are everywhere and everyone is expected to use them.
Thanks largely to early, comparatively strict movement directives, sterilising procedures and group gathering limitations implemented by the UAE authorities, Dubai is back to something approaching normality. Our hotels followed – and in some cases went beyond – mandatedprocedures that can appear odd or excessive at first, depending on what guests are used to. Less visibly but equally reassuring were the guest rooms that were subject to additional cleansing, with non-vital paper items removed. Our guests are very pleased with our approach to safety and sanitisation measures across all properties, and we’ve enjoyed great reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations on social media ever since this trip.
Vacationing has changed
The coming months provide a unique opportunity for low-risk travellers to explore an incredible destination like Dubai without the usual mass influx of tourists. On the face of it, vacationing here has changed, but as we continue to monitor evolving travel and safety situations and, where possible, keep guests (both present and prospective) updated, the ‘Dubai experience’ remains at its core essentially the same. The facilities and services of Dubai are exceptional, you can do wonders in Dubai! And, most important are the measures taken to ensure the guests’ safety and health. Of course, this has been an extremely challenging time, but we have moved forward and adapted our product offerings and experiences to ensure our market gets what it deserves.