CEO interview: DTCM taps social media influencers to draw tourists from China

In Q1 2018, visitors from China ranked fifth reflecting a 12% increase from Q1 2017 according to a DTCM report

DTCM CEO, Issam Kazim.
DTCM CEO, Issam Kazim.

As Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) progresses towards its goal of attracting 20 million annual visitors by 2020, DTCM chief executive office Issam Kazim told Hotelier Middle East that DTCM is taking a diversified market approach to draw in tourists from existing and emerging source markets such as India, China and Russia.

In a bid to attract more visitors from China, Kazim revealed that the organisation recently worked with key media influencers to garner organic interest in travelling to emirate.

“We are working with key influencers who are driving decisions with travel within certain markets. We had two friends from China, popular personalities on TV. They came to Dubai and they are friends who hadn’t had the chance to spend time with one another because they had been busy. So they came to spend time with one and another. They are very active on social media. They create their own content on social media so we gave them the space. They created the content they know will resonate with their audience and that has had an amazing impact,” Kazim explained.

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The collaboration, Kazim noted resulted in more than 50 million organic views of the content. “We had over 50 million organic views in the first month or two. So things like this have much better resonance with the audience and sends out the message in a much more natural way. So we are focusing on having that kind of content across all the segments and of course, all the demographics that we are working with. Of course, the opportunistic ones as well,” Kazim said adding, “China has been growing consistently and we know there’s much more potential to grow that”.

In Q1 2018, visitors from China ranked fifth reflecting a 12% increase to 258,000 from Q1 2017 according to a recent DTCM report. A Colliers International study also reported that an impressive 2.5m Chinese arrivals are predicted to visit the GCC by 2021.

Another market Kazim reveals that DTCM is keen on tapping through its diversified approach is South Korea. “South Korea, as a market we have a close eye on as we don’t still see it as a primary or secondary market because we are still scratching the surface in terms of the opportunities we can get out of there,” Kazim pointed out.

Earlier this year in January, Dubai Fountain performed its first-ever K-Pop song by popular boyband Exo, an effort to appeal to the Korean visitors to the emirate.

“The activation of bringing a K-Pop band to Dubai… to have the first Korean song at the fountain — it’s had such a huge impact on the GCC. So many people came just to see the artists — this cannot be underestimated,” Kazim noted.

DTCM has also extensively worked with other celebrities to “highlight and amplify content from existing visitors to the emirates such as the top three source markets like India, Saudi and the UK” including Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan through #BeMyGuest campaign which included four videos of the actor sharing his experiences and his favourite spots in the city.

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