Dubai received 3.1 million visitors in the first two months of 2023, with numbers exceeding pre-pandemic levels in the month of February. Dubai may even break its 2019 record of 16.73 million visitors this year, according to Emirates NBD.

The number of visitors in January was up 50% year-on-year (YoY), but was still 9% below pre-pandemic levels. In February however, there were 1.63 million visitors, up 35% year-on-year and up 7% on pre-pandemic levels.

Western Europe was the largest source of visitors overall in January and February, making up 22% of the total volume, followed by the GCC countries and South Asia, each making up 16%, Emirates NBD said in an update.  

India was the largest source of tourists, with 401,000 visitors in January and February, followed by Russia with 229,000, Oman with 201,000, the UK with 196,000 and Saudi Arabia with 183,000.

Visitor numbers from Saudi Arabia are still around one-third below pre-pandemic levels for January and February, while the number of visitors from Oman was 15% above Jan-Feb 2019 levels.  

China, one of the largest sources of visitors to Dubai in the last decade, recorded 52,000 visitors in January and February, down 75% for the same period in 2019.

The bank said the number of Chinese visitors may not fully recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, but they expect the numbers to continue to rise during the year.

Hotel occupancy

The average hotel occupancy for January and February of 2023 rose to 84.4%, a 6.4% increase YoY and 0.2% higher than 2019, although the guests’ length of stay declined from 4.3 nights to an average of 4 nights, and the average daily rate declined by 2% to AED 623 ($169.64).

The average revenue per available room increased by 6% YoY to AED 514 ($140), a 19% increase from 2019, despite the significant rise in supply.

The number of total available rooms grew by 7% YoY to 148,450 rooms.

Five-star hotels had the biggest share of the inventory with 34%, while four stars hotels made up 29%, and hotels from one to three stars made up 20%.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Daniel Luiz)