The UAE is one of the world’s most enticing countries to visit. Dubai for that matter is one of the world’s most luxurious cities that foreigners want to tour. It has attracted millions of tourists each year. According to the Dubai Tourism Annual Visitor Report of 2019, Dubai has received 16.73 million overnight visitors. A 5.1 rise to the previous year.
In 2016, tourism contributed AED 68.5 billion (or USD18.7 billion). Although the pandemic has hit the global tourism scene, it has been slowly recovering. In January of this year, the UAE Cabinet formed an Emirates Tourism Council to strengthen tourism in the country. They are responsible for suggesting and revising policies to support the tourism sector, attract tourism investments, suggest incentives to encourage tourism growth, support small and medium enterprises in the sector.
In short, this year is good for you to start a travel agency in Dubai. The nation has a target of 20 million visitors. Official prediction for tourism will be with AED 116 billion by the year 2027. That’s 5.4% of the country’s GDP. This means supporting more than 750,000 job opportunities.
So, let’s get started!
How to Set up a Travel Agency in Dubai
1. Establish Business Activity
The first step is to choose the business activity. Choose a travel agency business. There are varied options to choose from. As a travel agency business, you can choose the location where you will establish your tourism business.
2. Choose Company Name
When choosing a name, be cautious before applying. You cannot use an offensive word or even religious words like God in either English or Arabic. When using certain words, you have to consider global, international, East, South can be acceptable but can be charged an extra fee. Several restrictions will apply when choosing a name.
3. Apply for Business License
Licenses are issued by the DED. Trade and Business licenses either commercial, professional, industrial, or tourism should be approved by the government first before you start your travel agency. All companies should at least have a trade license. Basic requirements for application include a memorandum of association, certificate of incorporation, and copies of the shareholder’s passports. In the case of tourism, you need to apply for additional licenses from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
4. Apply for Tourism License
As mentioned above, you need to apply for either of these 3 additional licenses from the DTCM: outbound operator license, inbound operator license, or travel agent license. You also need your business plan outline, a NOC, or a No Objection Certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority. This is needed if you plan to sell airline tickets. Licenses should also be renewed yearly at least 30 days before the expiration date.
5. Set up Employee Visa
If employing individuals who are foreigners as well, be sure to apply 30 days within the employee’s entry in the country. You can simply register online for an employment visa. You need the following documents when applying: trade license, passport copies, establishment card of the company issued by the GDRFA (General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.
6. Open a Corporate Bank Account
Last on the list is choosing the best bank for your travel agency. You must choose the correct bank that suits your needs. Most banks will require a minimum balance between AED 5000 to AED 1 million. You can not apply for a corporate bank account without a trade license. Some will require proof of residency.
When in doubt, you can always consult a company formation specialist here. You can save time and money when it comes to a company start-up. Some banks require certain documents that consultants can easily help you file.