Riding on the IPL Wave, U.A.E.’s economy surges
Nothing explains the adage, ‘One man’s loss is another man’s gain’ better than the shifting of the Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL) out of India and into the U.A.E. For, while the subcontinent’s travel and hospitality sectors slumped significantly following the move, the U.A.E’s burgeoned.
It may be recalled that the implementation of the code of conduct ahead of India’s general elections meant that the lucrative cricket fiesta – now in its fourth season – had to be temporarily moved out of the subcontinent and into the U.A.E., much to the chagrin of Indian hoteliers, travel agents and event management firms. That India’s domestic 20Twenty tournament doesn’t merely showcase nail-biting cricket contests and visual treats is evident from the substantial profits the U.A.E.’s hospitality and travel industries raked in within a fortnight.
As per reports, no sooner were the dates of the matches announced in Dubai, than attractive offers were rolled out to lure the IPL’s massive domestic fan-following into the emirate. Right from enticing hotel stay packages, to meal deals, to sightseeing specials, the city’s hospitality industry left no stone unturned to cash in on seven of the 20 matches slated to be played in the U.A.E. between April 16 and April 30, 2014. Incidentally, as per a report in the Gulf News, India figures among U.A.E.’s top source markets, with Dubai alone attracting over 888,000 Indian hotel guests in the year 2013 – a 16.3% increase since 2012.
Whether it is to marvel at seasoned sportsmen decapitating the opposition with their blistering batting, or scouring the audience if only to spot a celebrity team owner, it is no secret that a premier sports product, such as the IPL, has the power to attract manifold economic benefits by way of an increased tourist inflow and subsequent surge in money generation. “Dubai’s hosting of the IPL is a significant boost to the emirate’s fast-growing tourism sector – enhancing our unrivalled destination offer as it also bolsters the local tourism and hospitality industry,” remarked Hamad Mohammed Bin Mejren, executive director of business tourism at Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, in a statement to the local media last month.
Not to be outdone by the hospitality sector, Dubai’s advertising and event management agencies also rallied up for maximum exposure during the IPL fortnight. Be it full front page adverts in the local newspapers, IPL-related jingles on the radio, pop-ups on the Internet, and even television teasers, the city’s media and communication establishments went on an overdrive in a bid to use the popular sports event as a platform to amplify brand awareness. As an offshoot, OSN – the TV channel that holds the broadcast rights of the IPL for the U.A.E. and the rest of the region – is believed to have sold airtime at a premium this year. Interestingly, the IPL’s domination over the ad market even managed to momentarily eclipse the build-up to the FIFA World Cup that is set to be hosted in Brazil in June this year.
Experts in the business explained that since this is the first time in the history of the League that it was being temporarily hosted outside the country of its inception, the U.A.E. was able to attract a certain home feel to the event. This led to an almost instantaneous flurry of activity in the media and event management sectors with localized ad campaigns dominating the scene until the League returned to India early this month. Bigger investments from banking, real estate and the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry were also reportedly signed on the back of the IPL this year.
Although the IPL has now returned back to India, it has left a telling effect on the U.A.E., its people, and most importantly, its economy. That there is nothing even close to this concept in the gamut of cricket was evident from the cheerleaders, flags, blaring music and the resounding cheers of spectators at the packed-to-capacity stadia in Dubai. Even in its nascent stages, since the year 2008, this League of Extraordinary Cricketers managed to turn the cricketing world topsy-turvy, for it gave birth to a creation that put smiles on the faces of its many spectators and millions in the coffers of its hosts.