25 Feb 2019

Dubai eyes the status of the most visited city in the world by 2022

Dubai has marked a new high in tourist arrivals last year on the back of its traditional markets, led by India, Saudi Arabia and the UK. 

According to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism, the number of overnight visitors exceeded 15.9 million in 2018, an increase of 0.8% over the previous year. India maintained its number one position with over 2 million visitors followed by 1.6 million from Saudi Arabia and an impressive 1.2 million travellers from the United Kingdom.

The number of guests from China and Russia increased by 12% and 28% to 857,000 and 678,000, respectively. Both countries were fourth- and fifth-largest markets in terms of visitor arrivals in the emirate of Dubai last year. 

Germany, the United States, the Philippines, France and Italy rounded off the top 10 markets, with the Philippines entering into the top 10 for the first time with 387,000 visitors. 

The number of tourists from France shot up by 17% to 348,000. Nigeria witnessed the highest growth of 36% and returned into the top 29 with 185,000 guests visiting Dubai last year. 

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai Tourism, said that the focus remains on the emirate becoming the most visited city globally in line with Dubai's Tourism Strategy 2022-25. "Throughout 2018, we developed and deployed a custom-market specific approach to deeper penetrate our target markets," he commented. 

"Our strategic investments, innovative destination promotion programmes, responsive federal policy reforms, and long-term global partnerships – all backed by the tremendous support of our stakeholders across the government and private sector – continue to yield strong results as we ramp up efforts to increase Dubai's accessibility, visibility and overall appeal, minimise barriers to travel, deliver new standards in global travel experiences, and ultimately drive both first-time and repeat visitation," he further added. 

According to Dubai Tourism, there were 716 hotels, guest houses and apartment hotels across the emirate last year with 115,967 rooms, an increase of 8% in terms of new rooms supply. 33% of those rooms were offered by five-star hotels, 20% by four-star establishments, and one-to-three stars commanded a 26% share. Hotel apartments constituted 21% of the total hotel share.

With average occupancy reaching 76%, occupied room nights increased to 30.13 million, while guests' average length of stay remained unchanged at 3.5 nights. 

From a regional perspective, 21% of the visitors came from Western Europe, followed by 18% and 17% from GCC and South Asia, respectively. North Asia and Southeast Asia accounted for 11% of the total, while MENA region delivered 10% of the total visitation volume. Meanwhile, Russia, other CIS countries and Eastern Europe collectively accounted for 9%. The Americas and Africa each contributed 6%, and Australasia rounded off the regional mix with 2% of market share in 2018. 

Dubai attracts diverse categories of travellers and has so much to offer, be it cultural or sports events (Dubai Tennis Championships spring to mind this week), shopping, great weather, sun and sea all year round or enticing investment opportunities. Investors who are looking to start a business or buy a second home in the UAE would also like to get a feel of the destination before parking their dollars here. 

Whichever goal you have in the UAE, do get in touch for a comprehensive professional support with investing into real estate, setting up a new business or obtaining resident visas/tax residency, among many other things.