When Kulwant Singh wandered into a Dubai travel agency back in 1997 to ask if he could borrow their fax machine, he never dreamed he was about to embark on a lifelong career in the travel industry that would result in him heading up one of the biggest tour operators in the UAE, responsible for bringing hundreds of thousands of tourists to the destination every year.
“I got into tourism by default,” admits Singh. “After finishing school in Al Ain I was looking for a job on a construction site in Dubai. So I walked into a tourism company to fax my CV off; and one of their guys had fallen sick. The manager said, you’re from here why don’t you take this group and show them around Dubai? So I did.”
“That gave me an idea to set up my own company. In 1997 I was just one man, going around all the hotels, asking them to give me customers to take around Dubai in city tours. Then another person joined me, then another — today we have about 500 people at Lama Tours,” he says proudly.
Lama Group has diversified its interests and today boasts an impressive infrastructure of three desert safari camps (two of them in Dubai’s Conservation Zone), a cruise business, a fleet of buses, cars and stretch limos, as well as two Dubai hotels —Seven Sands and Arabian Sands.
Singh puts the rapid growth of Lama Tours down to his strategy of targeting customers directly in their home markets or “going out and hunting for our customers.”
Lama Tours currently has offices in Russia, China, and across the GCC; but the company’s main focus is the Indian market which Singh says has “exploded” in recent years.
“The economy is growing. India has had 6.5 – 8% GDP growth and the market really expanded. And because of the geographical location it is doing better than any other market.”