According to the latest data published by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), a total of 15.79 million tourists visited Dubai last year, setting a new record for the emirate and underlining the sustained strength and resilience of its travel and tourism sector.
Commenting on the annual performance, Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Tourism, said: “Under the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the emirate has continued to capture share of the global outbound travel market, complemented by a significant increase in tourism-driven economic contribution to the country’s GDP. Our strong 6.2 per cent growth in 2017 has allowed us to ramp up the pace towards meeting our 2020 targets, and today Dubai’s travel and tourism sector is not only well positioned to offer a superlative destination experience across its eight core strategic propositions, but also geared to accelerate its appeal to the diverse and evolving needs of our global travellers.”
In terms of country-specific performance, India retained top spot in 2017, contributing 2.1 million visitors, becoming the first country to cross the 2-million mark in a single year. The country’s performance represented a 15 per cent year-on-year increase and validated, among other factors, the success of Dubai Tourism’s ongoing collaboration with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan in the multi award-winning #BeMyGuest campaign.
Saudi Arabia maintained its second rank, contributing a total of 1.53 million tourists last year. Despite an overall 7 per cent year-on-year drop in visitation, it remained the highest driver of traffic volumes from within the GCC.
Third-placed UK, meanwhile, delivered 1.27 million travellers, rising 2 per cent over 2016, underscoring Dubai’s popularity among British travellers despite lingering uncertainty surrounding Brexit that has impacted overall outbound travel growth from this market.
Impressive results from some of Dubai’s remaining top 10 source markets for inbound tourism included fifth-placed China with 764,000 tourists, up 41 per cent while eighth-placed Russia with 530,000 visitors, recording a stellar 121 per cent increase over the previous year. Both markets benefited from easier access following the introduction of visa-on-arrival facilities to Chinese and Russian citizens in late 2016 and early 2017, respectively. With increased contributions also from the USA, Germany and Iran, at 633,000, 506,000 and 503,000 visitors respectively, collective gains across all of these markets helped mitigate the decline in visitation observed from some of the regional markets like Oman and Pakistan.
Western Europe replaced the GCC as Dubai’s main regional source market with a 21 per cent share, contributing more than 3.2 million travellers, up 5.5 per cent. Although last year’s top performer ended 2017 in second place, the GCC region still maintained a high share of volume at 19 per cent, delivering an overall 3.02 million travellers to Dubai.
The South Asia region, in third place, contributed an 18 per cent share of over 2.8 million visitors, up a strong 10.6 per cent, followed by the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), and North and South-East Asia regions in joint fourth position, each contributing close to 1.7 million visitors and independently commanding 11 per cent share, the former recording a 3.2 per cent increase and the latter, an impressive 23.6 per cent over 2016 visitation figures.
By the end of 2017, a total of 107,431 keys were available across all hotel and hotel apartment establishments in Dubai, representing growth of 4 per cent on the previous year. Within this, the most significant expansion of inventory came within the 4-star segment, with a 10 per cent increase to 25,289 rooms. Dubai Tourism will participate at ITB Berlin along with several hotel and destination partners.
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