|08 February, 2018

Dubai tourism: Many more Chinese, Russians, but who is staying away?

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View of Dubai Marina, UAE. Image used for illustrative purpose.

View of Dubai Marina, UAE. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Dubai recorded a surge in Chinese and Russian visitors last year, as the emirate benefitted from the recent introduction of visa-on-arrival facilities for citizens from both countries, according to official figures released on Wednesday.

China was Dubai’s fifth-biggest tourism source market in 2017, with 764,000 visitors, up 41 percent year-on-year, while eighth-placed Russia recorded 530,000 visitors, a 121 percent increase over the previous year, according to data from Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism).

“Both markets benefited from easier access following the introduction of visa-on-arrival facilities to Chinese and Russian citizens in late 2016 and early 2017, respectively,” the government body said in a press release announcing the results.

While China and Russia produced high percentage growth levels, India remained the top source market overall and crossed the two million mark for the first time, recording a 15 percent increase in visitors to 2.1 million.

On the downside, visitors from other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries declined in 2017, with the number of visitors from neighbouring countries down 4 percent, resulting in the GCC slipping to second place behind Western Europe when it comes to regional source markets.

To emphasise this, the rankings of the top 20 source country markets showed that while Saudi Arabia was ranked the second-biggest source country, with 1.638 million visitors in 2017, the number of visitors to Dubai was down 7 percent year-on-year. Omani visitors also declined 17 percent and visitors from Kuwait were down 4 percent compared to 2016.

Overall, Dubai attracted a total of 15.79 million tourists last year, a 6.2 percent year-on-year increase. This was compared to a 5 percent rise in the previous year and puts the emirate in a strong position to reach its target of 20 million visitors in 2020.

“With Dubai firmly consolidating its position as the fourth-most visited city globally, we remain confident that our performance, backed by the continued strength of our partnerships across government and private sector stakeholders, will enable us to successfully attain our goals of becoming the #1 most visited city, as well as being the most recommended with the highest number of repeat Dubai loyalists,” Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai Tourism, was quoted as saying in a press release on Wednesday.

Some of the new attractions launched in 2017 were the beachfront district, La Mer, the Etihad Museum and the La Perle live entertainment show. Dubai’s major theme parks – IMG Worlds of Adventures and Dubai Parks and Resorts – also enjoyed their first full year of operations in 2017.

Dubai Frame and Dubai Safari opened towards the end of 2017, while new attractions for 2018 include the Dubai Historic District and the United Arab Emirates’ first national park, Al Marmoum.

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(Writing by Shane McGInley; Editing by Michael Fahy)

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© ZAWYA 2018