The Arabian Travel Market, a veritable annual showcase of the global travel and hospitality sector that invariably puts the spotlight on Dubai's thriving tourism industry, opened on Sunday as new data suggested that the emirate is on track to achieve its new goals of attracting 21-23 million tourists by 2022, and 23-25 million by 2025.
The 26th edition of the show, inaugurated by Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, at Dubai World Trade Centre, featured 400 main stand holders with representation from over 150 countries.
While the latest data from a research by Arabian Travel Market suggested that the UAE is set to welcome 8.92 million visitors from the top five source markets by 2023, visitor numbers to Dubai inched up by 0.8 per cent in 2018 to reach 15.92 million compared to 15.79 million in 2017, marking a new high as the city ramped up efforts to increase its overall appeal and accessibility.
According to data published at the ATM, Expo 2020 and its legacy, District 2020, is expected to have a positive long-term influence on the growth of inbound arrivals to the UAE from the country's top five source markets between 2018 and 2023.
Looking at the country's top three source markets, the number of Indian visitors travelling to the UAE will increase at compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of seven per cent to 3.01 million in 2023, while arrivals from Saudi Arabia and the UK will witness an increase of two per cent and one per cent to 1.76 million and 1.28 million, respectively, over the same period.
According to Dubai Tourism, the emirate's tourism sector, which was worth Dh109 in 2017, continued to witness stable year-on-year performances in terms of arrivals from top source markets with India, Saudi Arabia and the UK retaining their top three positions when compared to the same period last year.
In the Top 100 City Destinations 2018 report, a ranking of cities most attractive to international tourists by the UK-based market research firm Euromonitor International, Dubai came out in the seventh place, ahead of New York and many other popular destinations in Europe and the Americas.
With 20 million annual visitors expected to visit Dubai by 2020, plus an additional five million between October 2020 and April 2021 - 70 per cent of which will come from outside the UAE - the overall hospitality supply in the emirate is expected to increase by 39 per cent from 59,561 keys in 2017 to 82,994 in 2021 to meet this demand.
While the UAE's top source market rankings are expected to remain mostly unchanged post-Expo 2020 - the latest research from Colliers International, in partnership with ATM, reveals the Russian and Chinese source markets will show above average annual growth rates for inbound passenger arrivals.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director Middle East, Arabian Travel Market, said the number of Russian tourists travelling to the UAE will increase at a CAGR of 12 per cent to 1.6 million in 2023, while the number of Chinese tourists visiting the UAE will increase at a CAGR of eight per cent to 1.27 million over the same period, according to the data.
The Dubai stand at ATM showcases the breadth of the emirate's ever-evolving destination portfolio, as well as highlighting an upcoming pipeline of new experiences through numerous interactive activations and content-rich displays.
Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said ATM plays a key strategic role in helping Dubai Tourism provide insights into the emirate's dynamic tourism proposition to international, regional and local travel, tourism and hospitality decision makers.
"We are delighted to extend our reach this year by hosting more than 300 buyers from around the world to explore how to maximise our combined potentials."
Dubai Tourism is joined on the Dubai stand by Ministry of Interior, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, Dubai Police, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Municipality and Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
Highlights at the show include the debuts of the Arabia China Tourism Forum and the Hotel Industry Summit, as well as the return of the Global Halal Tourism Summit. As this year's main theme, cutting-edge technology and innovation will be integrated across all show verticals and planned activities.
Sidharth Mehta, partner and head of Building, Construction and Real Estate, KPMG Lower Gulf, said government initiatives such as visa on arrival for US visa holders and free limited visas to transit passengers have had a positive impact with respect to attracting tourists to Dubai.
"Furthermore, the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai has led to a boost in new attractions and accommodation options. Whilst five-star accommodations make up one third of the inventory, there are plenty of options for budget travelers, as well."
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