Dubai’s tourism and hospitality sector continued its recovery in June, with more than double the number of international visitors to the emirate than the same time last year, but the influx was still around 15% below H1 2019 levels, a report by Emirates NBD shows.
In the first half of this year, 7.12 million people visited Dubai (staying at least one night), nearly double year-on-year (y-o-y), the report said.
"Pent-up demand in GCC states has resulted in a surge in visitors from within the region compared with H1 2021, when many travel restrictions were still in place," noted Khatija Haque, Chief Economist and Head of Research of Emirates NBD.
Visitors from India made up most of the tourists (returning to the top after being briefly displaced in the last quarter). Oman came second, followed by Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.
Russia is in fifth place, with 309,000 visitors in the first half. However, the number of visitors from Russia has declined since March, following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.
Hotel occupancy declined to 63% in June from 73% in May, similar to last June’s occupancy rate. For the first half of 2022, hotel occupancy averaged 73.5% in Dubai, only slightly below H1 2019 (75.1%) and a significant improvement on 2020 and 2021.
Revenue per available room (RevPar) rose to $147 in H1 2022, 21% higher than H1 2019 despite a 22% increase in the number of hotel rooms in the emirate since then.
While tourism in Dubai in H2 is likely to be buoyed by the world cup in Qatar later this year, and the broader recovery in international travel, the strength of the dollar may prove a headwind for firms in the UAE.
"Around half of Dubai’s international visitors come from emerging markets where currencies have depreciated this year, making Dubai a relatively more expensive destination than Europe, the UK and Asia. High inflation and borrowing costs have also eroded purchasing power for consumers globally and may weigh on tourism demand in H2 2022."
(Writing by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria)