In seven staggered waves, Nu Skin China's 14,500-strongperson sales and marketing force left the UAE, with the company's final cohort departing last Thursday.
By the time they had gone, 40,000 hotel room nights had been booked, 300,000 bottles of water drunk and 13 dhows had provided no fewer than 94 dinner cruises, according to Arabian Adventures, who helped to organise the trip.
One feast put on for 7,250 Nu Skin reps at Dubai’s Meydan city required 300 chefs, 2,500 kilograms of rice and 4,600kg of beef and chicken.
This flagship effort formed part of a broader attempt to lure Chinese customers to the UAE.
The Nu Skin trip “has significantly lifted our credentials within the Chinese market”, said Mohammed Al Dhaheri, the head of strategy at Abu Dhabi’s Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).
China’s outbound tourism market is growing at a rate of 9 per cent annually, with overall tourism expenditure predicted to grow to US$1.8 trillion by 2030 from $260 billion in 2012, according to a report produced by Boston Consulting Group and TripAdvisor.
This is why the UAE’s tourist boards have been working to capture a share of this burgeoning market.
The Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau and Yas Island Destination Management visited the Incentive Travel & Conventions, Meetings China exhibition in Shanghai last week. China was Abu Dhabi’s third-largest international source market for hotel guests this year, according to TCA Abu Dhabi.
The Chinese conference and incentives industry is estimated to be worth $150 billion and is growing at an annual rate of 20 per cent, according to the organisers of the China Incentive Business, Tourism and Meetings Expo – which means that more trips like Nu Skin’s are up for grabs.
Sharjah in particular is making a strong push for Chinese business.
Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) sent a delegation to the Chinese Outbound Travel and Tourism Marketing conference in Beijing in an effort to drum up more business for the emirate, which hosted 270,000 tourists from East Asia last year.
“It is important for Sharjah’s tourism industry to tap this massive market,” said Mohamed Ali Al Norman, SCDTA’s chairman.
China is home to a significant Muslim population of about 23 million people, according to estimates from the Pew Research Centre, a US think tank.
Sharjah, which has a number of sites of Islamic cultural significance, could be well-placed to attract this market segment.
Shurooq, the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund, embarked on a nine-day roadshow in China from April 14 to 23 in an attempt to attract tourism and foreign investment.
Trade between the UAE and China totalled $21bn in the first-half of last year, a rise of 14 per cent year-on year, driven by deepening ties and growing Chinese affluence.
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