Dubai is one of the world’s most attractive cities and a recognized tourism destination. Dubai attracted almost 10 million tourists until 2014 and in the years to come, the visitor number is expected to double. The flourishing tourism industry also attracts foreign investors wanting to set up travel agencies in Dubai.
If you want to set up a travel agency and need guidance, our company formation specialists in Dubai are at your disposal with information and services in order for you to have a successful start on the market.
What to consider when opening a travel agency in Dubai
A travel agency can be operated as a limited liability company or as a sole proprietorship. It is important to make this distinction because of the registration and licensing requirements. In the case of LLCs registered as travel agencies, the requirements are more stringent. When setting up a travel agency as a sole proprietorship, the business owner will be required to become a certified travel agent.
Before starting the registration procedure for the company which will operate as travel agency, a foreign investor will need to consider a few, but very important aspects:
- the business form under which the travel agency will operate is very important;
- it is also important to establish if the company will operate in Dubai or one of its free zones;
- as a foreign entrepreneur, you will need to appoint a local agent to register the company on your behalf;
- it is important to carefully choose the type of travel agency license you will apply for;
- ensuring you have sufficient funds to set up the business is another aspect to consider.
In matters of company incorporation procedures for a Dubai travel agency, our local consultants can offer full services, including tax and VAT registration, according to the latest changes in the legislation.
If choosing to operate in one of Dubai’s free zones, as foreign investors, you will be able to fully control your business, as no local partner is required. However, the activities of your travel agency will be limited to offering your services to clients in the respective free zone.
Steps to open a travel agency in Dubai
The process to open a travel agency in Dubai is not complicated, if all the necessary steps for registration are followed. It is also important to apply for the right type of tourism license when considering opening a Dubai travel agency. The following types of licenses are available at the moment:
- the travel company license,
- the travel agency license,
- the inbound travel operator license,
- the outbound travel operator license.
Obtaining one of these licenses depends on the type of company investors want to register in Dubai. Investors must also know that, in order to receive a travel license, the amount of 100,000 Dirhams must be deposited with the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
The documents to be submitted for the issuance of the Dubai travel agent license
The documentation that must be submitted with the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce along with the deposit is:
- an application form,
- copies of the passports of the applicants and manager,
- a family record ‘khulasat Al Qid’ and copy of the identification documents for UAE nationals,
- a notarized copy of the manager’s certificate of experience,
- the owner and manager’s certificates of good conduct,
- a no objection letter issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.
The video below shows the main steps to open a travel agency in Dubai:
Requirements for opening a travel agency in Dubai
The manager of a Dubai travel agency must have three years of experience if he or she has a university diploma or a certificate in travel and tourism, or five years of experience if he or she only has a high school diploma.
In order to receive the travel license, the applicant must:
- pay an initial approval fee,
- request the approval of the agency’s trade name,
- supply an insurance policy;
- provide a lease contract and the blueprint of the location where the travel agency will operate.
The contract must be signed for at least three months and the office space must have at least 30 meters for each activity.
Obtaining an inbound/outbound travel agency license in Dubai
Two of the most employed types of licenses for travel agencies in Dubai are the inbound and outbound licenses which will allow the company to sell vacation packages inside, respectively outside the UAE. A Dubai travel agency can obtain one or both licenses, based on the services it wants to offer.
The following requirements must be completed in order to obtain any of the two licenses:
- an application form which is issued by the Department for Tourism and Commerce Marketing;
- in the case of a foreign owner, a copy of the passport must also be submitted;
- a feasibility report on the project to be completed, if a new facility is to be built;
- a certificate which proves the qualifications of the travel agency’s manager;
- a certificate which proves the good conduct of the business’ owner.
Even if the requirements are similar to the application for a travel agency license it should be noted that the application for an inbound/outbound license is filed with the Department for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, while the travel agency license must be obtained with the Department of Economic Development. The latter type of license also offers the travel agency to organize fairs, trade shows, conventions, and other MICE events.
It is also mandatory for the agency to appoint a travel agent who is subject to specific qualification requirements.
Activities of travel agencies in Dubai
The most common structure employed to set up a travel agency in Dubai is the limited liability company. The activities an agency can undertake are of inbound and outbound tour operator which allows it to organize events and tours within and outside the UAE. The travel agency is also enabled to handle visa procedures for foreign tourists. All travel agencies must have insurance policies which will cover all its activities for the duration of the license. The manager of the travel agency must have at least 3 years of experience and must also obtain clearance from the Police Department in Dubai.
The role of the travel agent in Dubai
As mentioned earlier, the travel agent is a mandatory requirement no matter the business form chosen by the owner. The travel agent plays an important role in the company, as he or she will have to complete the following activities:
- the agent will be in charge with the sale of flight tickets;
- he or she will provide the necessary support in obtaining the travel visa;
- the agent will be in charge of securing accommodation for the tourists;
- the agent will also ensure the transportation services and guided tours (where applicable).
The travel agent must obtain a certification issued by the Civil Aviation Department in Dubai.
Why start a travel agency in Dubai?
Even if it might seem a lengthy procedure, opening a Dubai travel agency will bring many benefits to its owners. Amon these, substantial incomes and a great inbound and outbound market, as there are many Dubai residents exiting the UAE for their vacations, but also many foreigners coming to visit Dubai.
Travel agencies can also be licensed to organize various types of events, and the MICE industry in Dubai is quite developed.
A foreign citizen living in Dubai based on a residence permit can apply for a travel agent license and thus set up such a business.
If you want to open a travel agency or any other type of company, you can contact our company formation agents in Dubai for details about the registration process. We remind you that we offer customized business registration services in Dubai no matter the type of company you intend to set up here.