Dubai has a set a new record for tourists visiting the emirate in 2017, recording a total of 15.79 million tourists last year, compared to the 14.9 million overnight visitors in 2016.
New data by Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), showed that Dubai has consolidated its position as the fourth most visited city globally, drawing closer to its 2020 goal of welcoming 20 million visitors per year by the start of the next decade.
"Our strong 6.2 per cent growth in 2017 has allowed us to ramp up the pace towards meeting our 2020 targets, and today Dubai's travel and tourism sector is not only well-positioned to offer a superlative destination experience across its eight core strategic propositions, but also geared to accelerate its appeal to the diverse and evolving needs of our global travellers," said Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of Dubai Tourism.
"Dubai is among the top four most visited cities in the world and the best performer in the Middle East and North Africa region. Recently, it has also been ranked as the world's second most popular destination for luxury travel," said Laurent A. Voivenel, senior vice-president of operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India at Swiss-Belhotel International.
Voivenel noted that a number of exciting leisure, family and cultural attractions such as the Dubai Opera, City Walk, IMG Worlds of Adventure, Dubai Water Canal, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Etihad Museum, La Perle by Dragone, Deira Islands, Dubai Safari Park and Dubai Frame have all further added to the city's appeal, as well as contributed to the steep rise in leisure tourism.
"Soon, we will have more landmark projects coming up such as the Dubai Creek, the Dubai Eye, Museum of the Future, Dubai Crocodile Park, the Warner Brothers Theme Parks and the 20 million square foot Dubai Harbour project," he listed. "DTCM's global promotions and marketing initiatives have not only boosted demand from existing feeder markets, but also helped to open new source markets."
In terms of country-specific performance, India retained the top spot in 2017, contributing 2.1 million visitors, becoming the first country to cross the two million mark in a single year. The country's performance represented a 15 per cent year-on-year increase. Saudi Arabia maintained its second rank, contributing a total of 1.53 million tourists last year. Despite an overall seven per cent year-on-year drop in visitation, it remained the highest driver of traffic volumes from within the GCC.
Coming in at third place, the UK delivered 1.27 million travellers, rising two per cent over 2016, underscoring Dubai's enduring popularity among British travellers despite lingering uncertainty surrounding Brexit that has impacted overall outbound travel growth from this market.
Other results from some of Dubai's remaining top 10 source markets for inbound tourism included fifth-placed China, with 764,000 tourists, up 41 per cent; while eighth-placed Russia, with 530,000 visitors, recorded a 121 per cent increase over the previous year. 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.
"Dubai has set its sights on establishing itself as a top tourist destination and global business hub and has already been regarded as one of the most visited cities in the world in 2017, and this trend will continue, even after the World Expo," said Mark Fernando, general manager of Ramada Downtown Dubai.
Fernando added that the ever-increasing room inventory in the emirate indicates that demand for rooms is on the rise, and that the hospitality sector is looking into tourism trends and projections past 2020.
"As we work to establish Dubai as the most recommended city in the world, our focus is firmly on driving advocacy as a key component of our strategy towards sustained tourism growth," Almarri added. "At the same time, as the destination offering continues to evolve, maintaining momentum will be crucial as we look to remain on track to achieve our Tourism Vision 2020 goals."
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