UK luxury tour operator to open Dubai office by December

Elegant Resorts, a Saudi-owned luxury tour operator, plans to open an office in Dubai by December to target the international high-end outbound travel market from the Arabian Gulf.

The UK company plans to invest about £1 million (Dh5.6m) in staff, training and equipment over the next two years, according to Michelle Sephton, the managing director of Elegant Resorts.

The Dubai office represents its first major international foray. In February last year, Thomas Cook sold Elegant Resorts for £14.3m to Al Tayyar Travel Group from Saudi Arabia. “There is a gap in the premium luxury travel market here [as] nobody was delivering the whole service in the Middle East,” said Ms Sephton. “We will guide the travellers as a 24-hour service throughout the trip. The high-spending travellers from [the Gulf] are an attraction as well.”

According to VisitBritain, the country’s tourism agency, visitors from the UAE spent £2,500 per person per trip, which typically lasted two weeks, in Britain in 2012.

Founded in 1988, Elegant Resorts handles 20,000 passengers from the British market a year and has about 800 hotels in its database.

“Dubai is a big destination and so is Abu Dhabi and Oman,” said Ms Sephton. “Sometimes travellers would use Dubai as a stopover.”

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