Consulting in Paradise: Building a Tourism Business in the UAE

Consulting in Paradise: Building a Tourism Business in the UAE

November 14, 2023

Tourism Business

Ever dreamed of ditching the daily grind and setting up shop in an exotic location? The United Arab Emirates could be your paradise. The UAE’s booming tourism industry is hungry for talent and expertise. As a tourism consultant, you have the skills to help resorts, tour operators, and government agencies develop world-class visitor experiences.

The natural beauty, vibrant culture, luxury resorts, and tax-free incentives attract over 15 million tourists to the UAE each year. There is huge demand for consultants who can craft strategies to capture more of the global tourism market. With your know-how, you can land consulting gigs to shape the future of tourism in a fast-growing, tax-free paradise.

Build a new life immersed in the sun, sea, and success. The UAE is open for your tourism business. It's time to make your dream consulting career a reality in paradise. The clients, the lifestyle, and the rewards will far surpass any you’ve experienced. This is your opportunity to spread your wings, follow your passion, and embrace the good life as a tourism consultant in the UAE.

The Booming Tourism Industry in the UAE

The tourism industry in the UAE has been growing rapidly over the past decade. Dubai and Abu Dhabi attract over 15 million visitors annually, and with massive developments like the Dubai Expo 2020, this number is set to increase substantially.

As a consultant, there are ample opportunities to provide your expertise to help tourism firms capitalise on this boom. Resorts, attractions, tour companies, and transportation providers will need guidance in developing sustainable business plans, sales and marketing strategies, and ways to enhance the visitor experience.

Dubai is focusing efforts on business tourism, luxury resorts, and theme parks. Abu Dhabi promotes its cultural attractions, like the Louvre Abu Dhabi and upcoming Guggenheim Museum. Consulting roles could include:

  • Devising digital marketing campaigns to increase brand awareness and bookings from target source markets like India, China, and the UK.
  • Conducting market research to identify new tourism products and services that would appeal to visitors.
  • Advising on customer service and hospitality training to provide a world-class experience for guests.
  • Developing sustainable and eco-friendly tourism master plans for new developments

Obtaining a Tourism Consultancy Licence in the UAE

To set up a tourism consultancy in the UAE, you'll first need to obtain the proper business licence. The requirements are:

Emirates ID and Residency Visa
As a business owner, you'll need an Emirates ID and residency visa to live and work in the UAE legally. Work with a registered business setup company to apply for your visa.

Trade Licence
A trade licence, also known as a commercial licence, permits you to conduct business activities. Apply for a ‘Tourism and Recreation Consultancy’ trade licence with the Department of Tourism and Commerce

Office Space
Rent dedicated office space, as most free zones and licencing authorities require a physical business address. Look for affordable space in business districts like Dubai Knowledge Park or Dubai Media City.

Professional Certification (Optional)
Gaining certification in areas like sustainable tourism, destination management, or marketing can strengthen your credibility. Check with organisations like the Global Sustainable Tourism Council or the Destination Management Association International for programmes.

With the tourism industry booming in the UAE, the potential for growth as a consultancy is significant. By obtaining the necessary licencing and certification, crafting a solid business plan, and leveraging your experience, you'll be well on your way to building a successful tourism consultancy in paradise.

Identifying New Opportunities in the UAE Tourism Market

The tourism industry in the UAE is booming, with opportunities for consulting and recreation businesses around every corner. Here are a few areas where you can identify new opportunities.

Focus on niche markets
Don’t try to please everyone. Zero in on a specific niche like adventure tourism, eco-tourism, medical tourism, or MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions). Do in-depth research on your chosen niche to determine their needs and tailor your services accordingly. For example, if targeting the MICE market, develop expertise in conference and event planning. In eco-tourism, focus on sustainable practises and cultural experiences. Becoming a specialist in your field will make you an attractive partner for government agencies and private companies looking to develop niche tourism.

Tap into new trends
Stay on top of emerging tourism trends to get ahead of the competition. Some current trends in the UAE include glamping (luxury camping), astrotourism (stargazing), voluntourism (volunteer travel), and bleisure (combining business and leisure). Identify ways to incorporate popular trends into the UAE’s tourism landscape. For example, develop glamping sites in the desert, create stargazing tours in remote areas away from city lights, or organise voluntourism programmes that introduce visitors to UAE culture.

Explore underserved areas
Look at areas of the UAE that haven’t been fully developed for tourism. The UAE has diverse landscapes like beaches, deserts, mountains, and wadis that offer lots of potential for new tourism products. For example, promote ecotourism in the Hajar Mountains, develop desert safaris and camping in the Empty Quarter, or create cultural tours to experience traditional Emirati life in smaller towns and villages. New tourism opportunities in unexplored parts of the country are ripe for the picking.

The UAE’s booming tourism industry has openings for creative consultants and recreation companies. By focusing on niche markets, new trends, and undeveloped areas, you can identify opportunities to launch innovative tourism products and services in this Middle Eastern paradise. The possibilities for building a successful tourism business in the UAE are endless!

Conducting Feasibility Studies for New Tourism Projects

Conducting feasibility studies is a crucial first step for any new tourism development project in the UAE. As a consultant, you can provide valuable insights to help determine if a concept will be viable and sustainable.
To conduct a feasibility study, you'll evaluate the project from multiple angles. First, analyse the local tourism market and target audience to gauge demand and interest in the new attraction or experience. Examine current offerings and potential competitors to find gaps your project could fill.

Next, evaluate the project's financial feasibility. Estimate capital and operating costs to determine how much investment will be required. Then forecast potential revenues and profits to see if the numbers add up for investors and stakeholders. Look at factors like ticket pricing, visitor numbers, seasonal changes in demand, and revenue streams beyond direct entry fees.

You'll also assess operational feasibility by identifying key resources needed to actually run the tourism project day to day. Consider essential elements such as staffing, transportation, amenities, and partnerships or permits required. Analyse risks and obstacles that could impact operations and have contingency plans to address them.

Finally, determine the social and environmental impact of the project. Address considerations like infrastructure requirements, natural resource usage, pollution and waste, and effects on local communities. Propose strategies to maximise benefits and minimise adverse impacts.

A comprehensive feasibility study can uncover weaknesses in a project's concept or planning that would threaten its long term success if not addressed early on. By evaluating tourism projects objectively and rigorously, you can help shape new developments that are set up to thrive in the UAE's market. Conducting these studies requires a balanced, thoughtful approach to finding opportunity amid challenges. With your expertise, projects will get off to the right start.

Creating Marketing Strategies to Promote Tourism in the UAE

Creating effective marketing strategies is key to promoting tourism in the UAE. As a consultant, you need to determine the best ways to reach potential visitors and convince them to choose the UAE as their next holiday destination.

Develop an attractive brand and messaging
Build a brand for the UAE that highlights why it’s a premier place to visit. Focus messaging on aspects like the year-round sunny weather, luxury resorts, desert adventures, beaches, shopping, and cultural experiences. Use captivating language and visuals to craft an alluring image of an exotic getaway.

Focus on digital marketing
With most travel planning happening online, digital marketing is essential. Optimise the tourism website and social media profiles to rank highly in search engines and engage potential visitors. Run social media ads and campaigns, especially on platforms popular with your target markets. Pay for sponsored posts from influential travel bloggers and vloggers.

Target key markets
Identify which countries and demographic groups offer the best opportunities to attract tourists. Then tailor marketing strategies to appeal specifically to those target markets. For example, promote family-friendly resorts and activities to visitors from other Middle Eastern countries. Market luxury glamping in the desert to affluent travellers from Europe. Run travel trade events in China and India to build relationships with tour operators.

Promote through partnerships
Form strategic partnerships with airlines, hotels, tour companies, and travel agencies to cross-promote the UAE. Offer discounts and bundles that make visiting the UAE more appealing and affordable. Sponsor major events like golf tournaments, yachting races, and food festivals to raise awareness of the UAE as a premier tourism destination.

UAQ FTZ Consultancy Licence for Tourism and Recreation Consultants

The UAE is an attractive hub for tourism and recreation consultants. Obtaining the right licence and permit is key to setting up your consultancy business. In Umm Al Quwain (UAQ), the Free Trade Zone (FTZ) offers an ideal solution.

The UAQ FTZ Consultancy Licence allows 100% foreign ownership and a tax-free environment for Tourism and Recreation Consultants. Some of the activities permitted under this licence include:

  • Developing tourism strategies and marketing plans
  • Conducting feasibility studies for new tourism facilities and services
  • Identifying opportunities to enhance the visitor experience
  • Specialised consulting in areas like eco-tourism, heritage tourism, and resort development

To obtain the UAQ FTZ Consultancy Licence, you will need to follow these main steps:

Step 1 : Choose a trade name for your company and check availability. The name should be unique and related to the tourism industry.

Step 2 : Submit the licence application along with business documents like your CV, business plan, and proof of funds. The entire application process can take 4 to 6 weeks.

Step 3 : Once approved, you can establish your consultancy in the UAQ FTZ. 

Step 4 : Recruit employees and market your services. Promote to hotels, tour operators, government entities, and private developers across the UAE.

Step 5 : Comply with UAQ FTZ regulations, like annually renewing your trade licence and visas.

The tourism sector in the UAE continues to flourish, fuelled by flagship projects like the Dubai Expo 2020. For tourism consultants, the potential opportunities are vast. By obtaining the UAQ FTZ Consultancy Licence, you can tap into this growing market, benefit from zero tax, and build a successful tourism consultancy business in the Emirates.


What services can a UAE-based tourism consulting business offer? 
Services encompass a wide range, including market research, feasibility studies, business planning, destination development, marketing strategies, sustainability planning, and management consulting specifically tailored for the UAE tourism market. 

How long does it take to obtain the UAE Tourism Consulting Licence? 
The duration may vary based on the specific requirements, but typically the process takes a few weeks to a couple of months. This timeline might be influenced by the completion and submission of necessary documentation and meeting the regulatory criteria. If you choose to partner with UAQ FTZ, you can get your licence in a day.

Who might require services from a tourism consulting firm in the UAE? 
Various entities in the UAE's tourism sector, such as hotels, resorts, travel agencies, tour operators, government tourism departments, entertainment venues, and cultural institutions, might seek the expertise of a tourism consulting firm to enhance their operations and market presence.

Are there specific regulations or licences required to operate a tourism consulting business in the UAE? 
Yes, there are specific licences for consultancy firms in the UAE. Depending on the scope of services and the specific emirate, different permits might be required. A UAQ FTZ (Umm Al Quwain Free Trade Zone) Tourism Consulting License allows firms to offer specialised consulting services related to tourism and recreational activities. This includes services such as strategising, planning, development, marketing plans, feasibility studies, technical studies, and identifying opportunities for new tourist facilities and services.


You've seen the opportunities; now it's time to make them happen. The UAE tourism industry is booming, and consultants with the right skills and experience can build a successful business helping firms tap into this growth. If you have a background in tourism, recreation, or hospitality and want an exciting new challenge, the UAE may just be the place for you. The demand is there, the economy is strong, and the lifestyle appealing. While the competition is increasing, the pie is also getting bigger with new resorts, attractions, and infrastructure in the works. Take a chance, spread your wings, and escape to an oasis of opportunity. Consulting in paradise could be the career move you've been dreaming of. The UAE awaits - will you answer the call?

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