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Airlines withdraw offers on rush to Dubai shopping festival

Debabrata Das

New Delhi, Jan. 21

With Indians rushing to shop at the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), airlines are closing bookings of special packages for the festival.

Speaking to Business Line, Mr Vinay Malhotra, Regional Manager, North and East India and Nepal, Emirates Airlines, said, “The packages for the Dubai Shopping Festival are all sold out and we have been forced to shut bookings now.”

Though he could not quantify the growth in the number of travellers from India to the festival, he said that the number is significantly higher than that recorded last year.

The response for the shopping festival packages has been similar with Jet Airways too. “We started offering holiday packages for DSF from November. But the response has been amazing. Bookings have been almost twice as much as it was last year. We have stopped sale for travel till January 31. Sale is only open for travel from February 1 to 20,” a Jet Airways spokesperson told Business Line. Jet's packages range from Rs 16,360 to Rs 30,850 for four days and three nights in Dubai. This is the second consecutive year of Jet Airways offering holiday packages for the DSF including hotel bookings.

“We had to stop bookings primarily because the hotels were completely booked. But we will start with the sale of the packages from Feb 1,” added the spokesperson.

According to travel agents, travel packages to the DSF have witnessed a massive increase of 75-80 per cent in terms of sales. Some of the more popular packages include those on offer from SOTC and Cox and Kings.

The festival which kicked off on January 20 witnesses a large number of visitors from India. Indian tourists are amongst the top three visitors to the DSF after visitors from the Gulf countries and Egypt.

According to statistics by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the number of visitors from the GCC, Egypt, and India staying in Dubai hotels recorded a substantial increase of more than 50 per cent in the first half of 2010 while compared to the same period in 2009.

Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment, the organisers of the festival, expect an even higher number this year.

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