Yas Island keen to invite Indian travelers when the time is right: Marijana Mihajlovic

Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is a world of its own. With its adventurous rides and abundant restaurants, it’s a treat to every discerning traveller. In an exclusive interview with Caroline Diana, Editor, Voyager’s World, Director of Business Development, Experience Hub, talks about the Island’s latest attractions as well as the safety measures.

A trip to Abu Dhabi isn’t complete without a trip to Yas Island. Tell us about your latest additions and facilities that would make sense for a traveller in times of a pandemic?

 At Yas Island, the health and safety of guests is our utmost priority. To ensure that our guests and employees feel safe at all Yas Theme Parks, attractions and the hotels, we have implemented a variety of precautionary measures.

 We have become the first destination in Abu Dhabi to receive the coveted WTTC ‘Safe Travels’ stamp in recognition of our advanced safety efforts.

 Yas Island introduced numerous safety measures including the ‘#TogetherAtYas’ online platform which offers guests a guide to the public health and safety protocols on Yas Island, and the widely commended ‘Yas Wellness Program’, which grants guests direct access to a dedicated team of Yas Wellness ambassadors.

 The Wellness Ambassadors are a team of specially trained individuals who are able to answer guests’ queries on the health and safety measures in place. In order to continually bridge guests to Yas Island, the Wellness Ambassadors are contactable via phone, social media, WhatsApp and email from 8 am to 5pm UAE time, daily.

 Also, Yas Island is on track to become a fully contactless destination through the adoption of FacePass.  Rolled out in phases across the island, it will streamline guest experiences using facial recognition.

 This kind of contactless technology is the future for all consumer-facing businesses. Not only does it save time and provide unrivalled convenience, it largely enhances guest safety and wellbeing through touchless interaction, ensuring world-class safety measures and ease of social distancing.

With experience of over two decades in travel & hospitality, what were your three biggest learnings in the past six months? 

As the sales and marketing arm of Yas Island, the Experience Hub team have experienced many of the challenges faced by all of the travel industry. Obviously the Pandemic is something that no industry could have anticipated, this was the first challenge, but a challenge we were quick to work on. Our Experience Hub teams around the globe have worked hard to ensure that our trade partners receive the level of service they expect and deserve. We have kept all of our partners in every source market, continuously updated on the every evolving situation both within the UAE as well as how we are responding the pandemic with regards to public safety.

Planning for recovery has also been tricky as markets are going through several waves. Nevertheless we have made contingency plans. We introduced a plethora of trade initiatives to support the travel industry for a post-COVID19 opening including:

  • Investment in new technology to ease the booking process and enhance the customer journey
  • With the customer experience remaining a top priority for both trade partners and Experience Hub, we are focusing on contracting new suppliers to enlarge our product offering
  • Upskilling and training of our global teams in China, India, Europe, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with a focus on new markets across North America, Australia, and Asia. Online training services for trade partners also remain available 24/7
  • Experience Hub has also increased the content for Yas Expert online destination, allowing trade partners to have access to in-depth online modules on Yas Island Abu Dhabi’s award winning attractions, unmissable leisure experiences, on-island stays and itinerary planning facilities

We are assuring continuous engagement with partners through virtual initiatives such as the Virtual Roadshows and training programme.

Finally, engaging in meetings which we would normally do face to face, has been difficult, however the world has quickly adapted and we continue to stay in an open dialogue with our key partners about the destinations re-opening strategy, which is designed to mutually benefit all travel stakeholders in global recovery.

These initiatives come as part of Experience Hub’s commitment to developing, strengthening and investing in strategic trade relationships.

Five top priorities that travel & hospitality professionals need to get right before the next pandemic.
A lot of measures will have to weigh in for the revival of Travel & Tourism industry. As vaccination programmes roll out, the tourism sector continues to plan to get back to normal as soon as possible, with contingency planning for recovery in the near future.

Tourism has and will continue to remain vital for Global economic recovery in the Post–epidemic Era.

The Tourism sector has already proven to be of assistance by putting its infrastructure, supply chains and staff at the service of public health and humanitarian aid. The industry has remained vigilant in closely monitoring and reacting with agility to the crisis to ensure the safety of public health, leading the way for tourism to recover as economic activity

Creating long-lasting synergies between public health and tourism is an investment in ensuring that the industry is well prepared for future crisis, and contributes to the confidence and trust amongst future travellers, given the importance and current sensitivities towards public health.

The harmonization, coordination and digitalization of COVID-19 travel-related risk reduction measures, including testing, tracing and travel health certificates, are essential foundations to promote safe travel and prepare for the recovery of tourism once conditions allow.

India has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This makes it quite challenging to sell travel to an Indian Traveler. What would Experience Hub do different to encourage an Indian tourist to take a trip to Yas island? 

We are very keen to invite our Indian travelers back to Yas Island when the time is right. Yas Island unveiled its Kid’s Go Free product offering for travel trade at this year’s Arabian Travel Market. Until 30 September 2021, children below the age of 12 will be able to stay and play for free – one child for every one paying adult, which includes complimentary admission to the island’s world-class theme parks, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, and Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi, as well as opportunities to stay and eat for free at the island’s diverse portfolio of hotels, we hope that the situation in India as well as travel restrictions ease, throughout the summer so that Indian travelers can enjoy this offer. Once Indian travel resumes, yes, we shall certainly have some exciting packages specifically for the Indian market and we hope to have some exciting events on the island during Q4.

Can you list 5 specific attractions in Yas Island that would attract the Indian traveller?
From award-winning theme parks to numerous leisure activities, Yas Island has a lot to offer to the tourists. The Island has a mix of award-winning leisure and entertainment experiences, from one-of-a-kind theme parks, world-class shopping and superb dining, to the globally renowned links golf course, exciting water and motorsports activities, and spectacular musical, entertainment and family events… all within the 25 sq km Island.

  1. The tourists can immerse themselves in an experience like no other at the award-winning theme parks Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, the record-breaking CLYMB™
  2. Yas Island is also home to Yas Marina Circuit (home to the FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX™), with W Hotel Abu Dhabi, the only hotel to have a racecourse running through it!
  3. The glamorous Yas Marina, where celebrity spotting id de rigeur
  4. The award-winning Yas Links golf course, and
  5. Abu Dhabi’s largest mall, Yas Mall with over 400 well known brands.

All the activities available at Yas Island such as indoor sky-diving, wall climbing are set to give thrills to the travellers who visit a destination like nowhere else. There is always fun and excitement in everything that Yas has to offer to its tourists. So, we suggest when you are at Yas try everything and live life to the fullest.