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Tourism Company Formation in Dubai

Dubai is one of the world’s leading tourism destinations. The city attracts millions of leisure and business travelers every year with its iconic skyscrapers, luxury experiences, sunny beaches, and cultural attractions. Setting up a tourism company in Dubai can be a profitable endeavor given the thriving hospitality sector. This comprehensive guide covers the basics of establishing a tourism business in Dubai.

Overview of Dubai’s Tourism Industry

Tourism is a pillar of Dubai’s economy. Key facts about the city’s tourism landscape:

  • Dubai welcomed over 16 million visitors in 2019, aiming for 20 million by 2025.
  • Tourism contributes around 12% to Dubai’s annual GDP.
  • Over 500,000 people are employed in the hospitality and tourism sector.
  • Dubai has over 160,000 hotel rooms across 774 hotels.
  • Tourists spent over AED 120 billion in Dubai in 2021.
  • The Dubai Department of Tourism promotes and regulates the tourism industry.
  • Vision is to make Dubai the #1 most visited global destination.

The numbers highlight the scale and economic impact of tourism in Dubai. The steady growth provides an attractive opportunity for new tourism companies.

Popular Tourism Company Ideas

Many types of companies can cater to travelers in Dubai. Some top tourism business ideas include:

Inbound Tour Operators

Plan customized Dubai itineraries, book hotels/activities, arrange transportation for visiting tourists.

Destination Management Companies

Provide complete travel packages and ground handling for corporate groups and events.

Experiential Travel Agencies

Offer curated specialized tours showcasing culture, food, adventure, nature, etc.

Concierge Services

Assist hotels or private clients with bookings, reservations, and personalized recommendations.

Travel Equipment Rentals

Rent out equipment for beach recreation, desert safaris, camping, water sports.

Visitor Information Centers

Provide maps, brochures, guides, and trip planning for exploring Dubai.

Tourist Transportation

Offer tourist-oriented transportation via bus, boat, seaplane, or luxury car.

Online Travel Companies

Develop websites and apps to compare Dubai hotel/flight deals, reservations.

Travel Photography Tours

Organize photo tours of top Dubai landmarks and photogenic spots.

With Dubai’s expanding tourism, there is room for niche operators specializing in unique sectors like luxury tourism, halal travel, eco-tourism, adventure tourism and more.

Requirements for Setting Up a Tourism Company in Dubai

While an exciting prospect, establishing a tourism company in Dubai has regulations and requirements to factor in:

Business Licensing
You must obtain either a commercial or professional license from the Department of Economic Development (DED) depending on visa needs.

Sponsoring work visas requires having an Emirati partner with 51% ownership. Otherwise, visas can be sponsored through third parties.

Office Space
A commercial license requires maintaining an office. You can setup in a free zone with flexible lease options.

Local Service Agents
Onshore companies need a UAE national service agent for administrative requirements.

Trade License
Tourism companies need a specific license from the DTCM showing you meet requirements.

Must have appropriate tourism liability insurance and medical coverage for employees.

Proper business plan paperwork, owner’s passport, and other documents are mandated.

Capital Investment
Expect around AED 150,000 – AED 500,000 minimum capital needed depending on license type.

Partnering with a local Emirati can help navigate requirements, but proper research is key.

Step-by-Step Guide for Setting Up a Tourism Company in Dubai

Following these key steps will get your tourism business legally registered and operating in Dubai:

Draft a Business Plan
Define company objectives, target market, operations plan, and projected finances.

Choose a Business Structure
Most common are LLC or sole establishment depending on number of partners.

Select a Business Activity
Narrow main tourism activities based on DED defined categories.

Pick a Business Location
Mainland, free zones like JAFZA or DAFZA offer options with different rules.

Obtain Approvals & Licensing
Apply for trade license from DTCM and commercial license from DED.

Arrange Visas & Employment
With license, can now sponsor work visas or hire through third parties.

Open a Business Bank Account
Required to process licensing payments and ongoing company finances.

Obtain Insurance Coverage
Necessary tourism liability and employee medical insurance.

Lease Office Premises
If mainland license, must setup physical office space for the business.

Recruit Staff
Can now hire team and specialists critical for activities.

Launch Marketing Efforts
Build brand awareness through online, print, and traditional advertising.

Following these systematic steps will ensure you cross all requirements off the list and establish a fully licensed tourism company in Dubai.

Key Benefits of Setting Up in Dubai

Dubai offers many unique advantages for new tourism ventures including:

  • Booming tourism industry – Massive growth and demand with 20 million visitors targeted by 2025.
  • Global hub – Two international airports make Dubai highly accessible for global tourists.
  • World-class infrastructure – Modern amenities and efficient services cater to tourists.
  • Business-friendly environment – Low tax, high standard of living, stable economy.
  • Luxury capital – Affluent visitors flock for premium experiences.
  • Air connectivity – Easy access from key tourist feeder markets.
  • Global workforce – Multicultural employees from diverse backgrounds.

Key Considerations and Challenges

While Dubai offers incredible opportunities, some key challenges include:

  • High startup costs – Minimum AED 150k capital required. High licensing fees.
  • Regulations – Extensive paperwork and procedures for visas, licensing, etc.
  • Local partnerships – Onshore entities require Emirati partners holding 51%.
  • Competitive market – Many existing players target tourism sector.
  • SEO Optimization – Expensive to rank high in search for competitive tourism keywords.
  • Retaining staff – High employee turnover rates in the UAE.

Thorough planning and financial resources help overcome these hurdles to building a successful tourism business in Dubai.

Key Takeaways

  • With 16+ million visitors annually, tourism is a pillar of Dubai’s economy.
  • Inbound tour operating, destination management, experiential travel are lucrative sectors.
  • Must obtain a DTCM tourism trade license and DED commercial license.
  • High capital investment of AED 150k+ required as well as office space and insurance.
  • Following a step-by-step setup process ensures proper licensing and compliance.
  • Benefits like infrastructure and luxury market help offset challenges like regulations.


Dubai provides incredible business opportunities in the tourism industry given the emirate’s continuous growth into a global travel hotspot. But navigating the licensing, visas, and other regulatory steps is crucial to legally establishing a tourism company here. Partnering with a reliable local advisor can smooth the process. With thorough preparation, adequate capital, and leveraging Dubai’s many advantages, the rewards of launching a successful tourism venture here outweigh the challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Setting Up a Tourism Company in Dubai

What are the minimum capital requirements for a tourism company in Dubai?

The minimum capital requirement is AED 150,000-500,000 depending on license type. A mainland LLC requires minimum AED 150k capital, while free zones can be AED 300k-500k or more.

What tourism business activities require a DTCM license?

Businesses involved in tourist transportation, vehicle rental, tour operating, destination management, events, and guides need a DTCM tourism trade license to operate legally.

Do I need a local Emirati partner for my tourism company in Dubai?

If you form an onshore mainland company, yes you legally need a 51% Emirati partner. In free zones, 100% foreign ownership is permitted without a local sponsor.

Can I get a digital license for my tourism business in Dubai?

Yes, Dubai has introduced virtual licenses where the application and license issuance is completed digitally without needing paper documents.

How long does it take to get tourism trade licensing in Dubai?

It typically takes 4-8 weeks to get all the paperwork, approvals, trade license and tourism license completed through the DTCM and DED.

Do tourism companies get any tax benefits in Dubai?

Yes, tourism companies in Dubai can benefit from the Tourist Dirham Fee tax refund scheme if they host guests staying in Dubai hotels for reward points.

What is the Tourist Dirham Fee?

The Tourist Dirham Fee is a 7% room tax paid by hotel guests in Dubai. Tourism companies can get 5% of this fee refunded under certain conditions.

Can I open multiple tourism companies in Dubai with a single trade license?

No, each tourism company requires its own separate tourism trade license as per DTCM regulations. You cannot operate multiple companies under one license.

Is an Emirates ID required to apply for a Dubai tourism license?

For sole establishment licenses, the owner requires a valid Emirates ID. For LLC companies, the Emirates ID is only needed once owners are residing in the UAE.

Can a free zone tourism company operate tours in the mainland?

Yes, with DTCM approval a free zone tourism company can conduct tours and activities on the Dubai mainland without needing a separate onshore license.

What is the average cost of a commercial license in Dubai?

A mainland Dubai commercial license typically costs AED 8,000-12,000 depending on the specific activities. Free zone licenses cost AED 10,000-20,000 plus other fees.

What is the validity period of a Dubai tourism license?

The tourism license issued by DTCM is valid for one year from date of issuance. It must be renewed annually by submitting an application to DTCM.

Can I get a Dubai tourism license without leasing office space?

No, to obtain a commercial license from DED you must show proof of office premises either owned or leased in your name for mainland companies.

Does securing a trade name guarantee I will get a tourism license?

No, reserving a trade name only ensures that name is protected. It does not guarantee that your tourism license application will be approved.

What is the difference between a local service agent and a local sponsor?

A local sponsor co-owns the business with at least 51% shares. A service agent is just an administrator helping with paperwork and does not own shares.

What are the requirements to renew a Dubai tourism license?

You need to submit the renewal application form, current license copy, passport copies, and pay the renewal fees to DTCM within 30 days of expiration.

Can a Dubai free zone tourism company hold a liquor license?

Yes, while the mainland does not permit it, free zones allow tourism companies to apply for and obtain bar and liquor licenses.

Does a tour guide in Dubai require a special license?

Yes, Dubai tour guides must be licensed by DTCM. They need extensive training, exams, continuing education and background clearances.

Can I advertise my Dubai tourism company before getting licensed?

No, you cannot legally advertise or sell any tourism services before officially obtaining the DED and DTCM licenses required for operation.

Do tourism company staff need to be registered in the DED system?

Yes, as the licensed legal entity, a tourism company must register all active employees and partners in the DED national employee registry.