Dubai Tourism and Etihad Airways hosted eight lucky Irish travel agents on a fam trip to Dubai from 12th – 16th September 2013. Agents stayed at the luxurious Fairmont, the Palm for four nights and enjoyed Dune Bashing on a Desert Safari, an afternoon at Aquaventure, a visit to At The Top, Dubai Mall, and to the Bastakiya Historical District.
Those taking part were Jonathan Ritchie, Oasis Travel; Mary Downes, Cassidy Travel; Jacqueline Sheehan, Tropical Sky; Michele Anderson, Sunway; Kathryn Vaughan, Carlson Wagonlit Travel; Elaine Hagan, Travel Counsellors; Jill Rankin, Clubworld Travel; and Joanne McCabe, GoHop.ie.
Joanne McCabe, Dubai Expert
Irish Travel Trade News chose a fam trip participant who was a first-time visitor to Dubai – Joanne McCabe of GoHop.ie – and asked her, prior to her departure, about her experience with undertaking the Dubai Expert training programme (http://uk.dubaixperts.com) and her expectations of the destination, and, following her return, whether her expectations had been met:
“I originally undertook the Dubai Expert training programme because I wanted to visit Dubai on the way home from our honeymoon in Sri Lanka and The Maldives. Unfortunately time prevented us from doing so, but I still wanted to see what Dubai is all about – and actually seeing it would help me inform clients more about the destination.
“The programme took approximately three hours to complete the programme and was easy to do – all the answers were in the material provided. There was a lot of reading and some modules took longer than others. I particularly enjoyed the general information module, reading about the people and their culture.
“My expectations of Dubai? I love the feeling when arriving at a new destination and taking pictures and I watched documentaries in college on the construction work in Dubai and on the building of man-made islands to resemble the world. I am interested in the variety of what Dubai has to offer – definitely the local people and the markets – and I am really looking forward to seeing the fabulous hotels on the itinerary! The SMCCU (the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding) sounds amazing and I can’t wait to visit there.”
So how did Dubai meet Joanne’s expectations?
“Dubai was a fantastic experience and most definitely met my expectations. The knowledge that I gained from the Dubai Expert programme now combined with visiting Dubai makes me extremely confident in selling the destination. Learning about modern Dubai, how it has emerged as a cosmopolitan city and business hub, and learning about the culture was fascinating. The overall size of the city was much bigger than I expected, and the variety and standard of the luxurious hotels on offer is a dream!
“I loved the hotel viewing and the variety and locations of properties on the itinerary, the hosts were all very welcoming and the meals were fabulous. The evening we spent visiting the Vida Hotel, the Palace Dubai Downtown and the fountain display was great fun! The Fairmount The Palm is a superb hotel with a relaxed atmosphere and very beautiful – and the meal in its Brazilian restaurant was amazing. For families, I will highly recommend the Atlantis The Palm.
“The Dubai Mall downtown is enormous and I will definitely recommend that clients shop there.
“The SMCCU provided a full understanding of the Emirati people as well as the most authentic Emirati cuisine. The visit was an excellent experience, with the host combining humour and facts to explain the culture, Arab life, and Islam, followed by a question and answer session. The website, www.cultures.ae/index.php/aboutus, explains the involvement of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in the project.
“What would I like to have been included in the itinerary? I would like to have visited the markets and when we visited the Jumeirah Beach Hotel it would have been nice to have seen more of the surrounding location – but it is impossible to include everything, and we experienced so much!”