Dubai has achieved its highest growth in tourism numbers, reporting 17.15 million international overnight visitors in 2023, according to the emirate’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).

This represented a 19.4% year-on-year growth over the 14.36 million tourist arrivals in 2022.

The surge in tourist numbers also beat the pre COVID-19 record of 16.73 million visitors recorded in 2019.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, attributed this growth to the emirate facilitating “meaningful public-private partnerships” that have had a “transformative impact on tourism development in the emirate.”

“Dubai’s ability to constantly generate diverse and refreshingly novel travel and tourism experiences catering to a wide range of visitors has been a key factor behind this exceptional performance,” Sheikh Hamdan added.

The tourism performance contributed to Dubai’s 3.3% GDP growth in the first nine months of 2023. Accommodation and food services activities witnessed a 11% growth.

The strong tourism performance in 2023 saw Dubai maintain its position as a first-choice travel destination for visitors, both from key traditional and emerging markets, the report stated.

From a regional perspective, the GCC and MENA delivered a combined 28% of the share of inbound tourists, followed by arrivals from Western Europe and South Asia, accounting for 19% and 18%, respectively.

Meanwhile, CIS/Eastern Europe recorded a 13% share. The North Asia and South-East Asia region accounted for 9% of arrivals, the Americas contributed 7%, followed by Africa at 4% and Australasia at 2%.

Hospitality performance

Average occupancy for Dubai’s hotel sector in 2023 stood at 77.4%, increasing from 72.9% in 2022 and exceeding the 75.3% average occupancy in 2019.

Dubai also witnessed a 19% increase in room supply in 2023 compared to 2019.

Dubai’s hotel inventory at the end of December 2023 comprised 150,291 rooms at 821 establishments, compared to 146,496 rooms available at the end of December 2022 across 804 establishments and 126,120 rooms available at the end of December 2019 across 741 establishments.

In 2023, occupied room nights soared to 41.7 million, marking a 11% increase compared to 2022 (37.43 million). This growth also represents a substantial 30% rise from the pre-pandemic figures of 2019, which saw 32.11 million occupied room nights.

The hospitality sector also witnessed an increase of 6% compared in RevPAR (revenue per available room) growth compared to 2022 (AED415 vs AED391) and a growth of 33% over the pre-pandemic period of 2019 (RevPAR of AED312).

Guests’ length of stay was 3.8 nights in 2023, a 10% increase from 3.4 nights in 2019.

(Writing by Bindu Rai, editing by Brinda Darasha)