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Dubai welcomes 16.73m overnight visitors
March 2020 2671

Dubai's tourism industry closed a successful decade at the end of 2019, welcoming an all-time high 16.73 million international overnight visitors, an impressive 5.1 per cent increase in tourism volumes, surpassing the global tourism growth forecast by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) by over one per cent.

Contributing 11.5 per cent in GDP value, Dubai’s tourism sector was ranked one of ‘Top 10’ strongest economic share generators, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Cities Report 2019. The Report also ranked Dubai the third largest city in capturing direct international tourism spending with a total of $27.9 billion.

Impressive growth is evidenced by Dubai’s top six source markets – India, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), United Kingdom (UK), Oman, China and Russia – delivering over seven million visitors in 2019, with 9 of the top 10 countries crossing half a million visitors each for the first time, highlighting the robust diversity of Dubai’s base for tourist attraction.

Results reveal India once again retains its No.1 market status, drawing the highest visitation with nearly two million visitors, thanks to high-impact delivery of timely, seasonal messaging, and segment specific campaigns. The Department’s investments yielded strong stabilising returns, strategically tapping into the close association and diaspora affinity, which Dubai shares with this market, countering the relentless spate of outbound tourism challenges including airline industry degradation and geopolitical volatility.

Dubai has announced a tourist visa fee waiver for all young travellers under 18 years of age, accompanied by their parents, from July 15 to September 15


Coming in strong at No. 2, KSA consolidates its position as the GCC’s highest traffic generator with 1.6 million Saudis visiting Dubai. The UK, meanwhile, remains Dubai’s third largest source market, with an impressive 1.2 million British travellers visiting the city in 2019 even as they continued to be affected by economic instability and a weaker pound, impacting affordability.

As the second highest volume driver for the GCC, Oman secures fourth spot in 2019 with a sharp 24.3 per cent spike to deliver over a million visitors. China registered 989,000 visitors to Dubai in 2019 at 15.5 per cent year-on-year growth. Despite airlift constraints and aggressive competitor pricing, Dubai retained attractiveness for Russia on the back of a strong fourth quarter rally to take the sixth spot with 728,000 visitors at a strong 7.4 per cent growth.

Dubai Tourism’s commitment to its source markets is further emphasised by the launch of strategic collaborations with the biggest names in the travel and technology ecosystem such as Travel Audience – an Amadeus company, Hotelbeds – a leading Spain-based travel distribution platform, Chinese conglomerate Tencent’s WeChat, new Gen Z platforms like TikTok, online travel agencies like Ctrip, region specific ones like Seera Group for the MENA, and airline partners like FTI to name a few.

New strategic, legislative and regulatory enablers including the proposed UAE-wide implementation of a five-year, multiple-entry visa for tourists of all nationalities, and efforts to increase air capacity to Dubai, are set to further increase visitor arrivals. Dubai has announced a tourist visa fee waiver for all young travellers under 18 years of age, accompanied by their parents, from July 15 to September 15, strengthening Dubai’s appeal as a family-friendly destination for the summer period.

Strengthening Dubai's position as the ‘leading cruise hub of the region’, the emirate welcomed six international cruise liners on December 29, through its award-winning Mina Rashid cruise terminal, which dealt with formalities and processes for more than 60,000 cruise passengers. Following a highly successful 2018/2019 cruise season, which saw a record increase of over 51 per cent in cruise tourist footfall and a 38 per cent increase in cruise ship calls, Dubai is expected to welcome more than 200 ship calls and an estimated one million cruise visitors during the 2019/2020 season.

ITB Berlin 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID-19.

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